The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has awarded Colorado State University biology Professor LeRoy Poff and his team $105,000 for their two-year research project on the effects of climate change on stream hydrology.
Under this new grant, Poff will focus on the Colorado River basin to identify streams that are prone to have no-flow days and go dry in summer, pushing vegetation to become more drought tolerant and the species surrounding the stream to also adapt.
Ultimately, the researchers intend to use this new information to understand vegetation sensitivity to climate change and the ability of vegetation to move with changing conditions as a basis for developing maps for policymakers and conservation groups. The grant comes from the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART Program through their Southern Rockies Landscape Conservation Cooperative.
“We want to show how the vegetation is vulnerable to climate change in temperate streams,” said Lindsay Reynolds, post-doctoral researcher and principle investigator. “We are focusing our attention on the Colorado River areas projected to have longer and drier summers as the climate rapidly changes. Also, the biggest challenge we have faced in the field is understanding variability for the future and determining how much the fresh water supply will decrease for future generations.”
Poff, Reynolds and other scientists in the group also work closely with U.S. Geological Survey and The Nature Conservancy on climate change research.
In 2010, Poff was among a selected group of scientists to receive a grant of $3 million from the National Science Foundation to evaluate temperatures and extreme weather and its affect on stream life in temperate and tropical streams. Their hypothesis going into the research was that temperate species were likely to be less sensitive to climate change than those in the tropics because temperate streams naturally experience major annual swings in temperature and stream organisms often occupy a wide range of elevations. Sampling of steams in Colorado commenced this summer. Ecuadorian sampling will start early next year.