Food Web Structure on Tamarisk
* What is the insect food-web supported by tamarisk, _Tamarix ramosissima_?
* How stable and diverse is the food web supported by tamarisk?
* What proportions of the plant's biomass is converted into primary, secondary, and tertiary biomass?
* How important is tamarisk's food web as a food source for wildlife, including endangered species?
Need and Benefit
Compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA) has required Reclamation for decades to mitigate for loss of riparian habitat, including tamarisk. Tamarisk is a dominant riparian tree-species adjacent to Reclamation projects, and has been estimated to exceed 350,000 hectares throughout the Western United States. In addition, it provides nesting habitat for the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher. A major limitation of our knowledge of tamarisk is the food base supported by the plant.
Reclamation has thoroughly studied the birds, mammals, and reptiles found in tamarisk stands, but we have never quantified the abundance of animals that are directly-dependent on the plant and provide food for vertebrates. This study will provide this data for the first time. Understanding the food web supported by tamarisk will improve Reclamation's ability to accurately mitigate for the plant's loss and manage habitat for wildlife, including the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher.
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