Water Canyon Vegetation
This capstone project will take place in Water Canyon on Santa Rosa Island. Cattle and elk heavily grazed Santa Rosa Island for 150 years having severe impacts on the vegetation. The island has been going through recovery for 3 years after the last elk was removed in 2012. This study will look at the vegetation distribution throughout the watershed, primarily focusing on the riparian habitats and terraces. Surveys will be conducted to identify species within cross sections of the stream channel. Patterns of population niches will be identified. Further research will be conducted from literature to identify why certain species inhabit certain areas.
Vegetation distribution will be examined with regards to upstream/ downstream patterns, elevation, slope, and materials within the stream channel (boulders, rocks, soils, etc.). Additionally, Invasive species will be identified and examined to see the impacts on the native species. It is anticipated that biodiversity will decrease with an increase of invasive species. The study will compare the expected vegetation in Water Canyon with literature that focuses on vegetation in stream channels and significantly impacted areas. This project will be collecting baseline data that can be used in future research projects after the island has more time to recover or after any significant natural event.
Project Mentor: Linda O’Hirok