Master's Theses

Date of Award

Spring 1984

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biology

Advisor

G. K. Hulett

Abstract

Prior to 1880, the Arkansas River in western Kansas averaged 400m in width, and supported almost no riparian forest. The flow regime and the consequent geomorphology of the river were hypothesized to be the most important forces that restricted the growth of woody vegetation on the banks of the river. The subsequent influx of trees into the channel during the 20th century is correlated to the onset of irrigation, as the reductions in peak discharges enabled tree seedlings to become established in the channel. Until the turn of the century, farmers used only the surface flows of the river to irrigate. Irrigation with groundwater, and the construction of John Martin Reservoir on the upper Arkansas in 1943, also affected the flow regime and shrinkage of the channel. The woody vegetation in the valley probably reached a peak in areal extent during the late 1960's. Since 1970, exploitation of groundwater has dried the river through an 80 km reach, and has severely curtailed the establishment, growth, and survival of trees.

Rights

Copyright 1984 Joseph R. Tomelleri

Comments

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