From Gregg Fell, Field Projects Coordinator:
During the last quarter of 2012, the final monitoring events for the Watson Woods Restoration Project were conducted for geomorphology, botany, macroinvertebrate zoology, herpetology, and ornithology, with results summarized briefly below:
The Granite Creek restoration has resulted in a new channel pattern that has improved stream access to adjacent floodplains and has allowed surface water to spread out over more of the Preserve. This channel alignment has also allowed riparian vegetation to flourish in areas that previously had been spoil areas from gravel mining. In addition, width/depth ratios have remained within the desired range, and stability analyses have improved over time.
Willow clusters/trenches and cottonwood pole plantings have an 84% survival rate. Average herbaceous cover increased 31% from 2011 to 2012, and average height class among plots increase from 1.0 (<0.5m) to 4.2 (2.1-5m).
It appears that the stream recovery following the channel restoration work was successful not only for restoring the physical integrity and functional riparian community but in creating a stable channel and substrate sufficient for a functional intermittent stream community to develop. Throughout all 9 sites surveyed in the watershed, Watson Woods was the only site in “good” condition, in regards to the intermittent Index of Biological Integrity, which includes taxa richness, percent composition by stoneflies, midges, and the most dominant taxon, and percent collectors/filterers.
Both biodiversity and abundance appears to be increasing in riparian woodlands, likely a function of both previous and current restoration efforts. Although lizards quickly colonized restoration sites, more detailed analyses are needed to ascertain correlation in species population trends with current restoration efforts. In total, 19 reptile and amphibian species were observed in Watson Woods. Survey methods were not equally likely to detect each species; however, common diurnal lizards were detected during all methods. Plateau Fence Lizard and amphibian larvae constituted the vast majority of detections.
Surveys were conducted during the months of January, March, April, May, June, July, August, September and November using two survey protocols as designed by the Arizona Important Bird Area (IBA) Program—transect surveys, point count surveys, and census surveys. Results suggest an increased trend in numbers of two neotropic migrant species, common black-hawk and Bullock’s oriole, and it is anticipated that the continued growth of the recently planted vegetation (especially cottonwood and willow trees) will continue to improve avian populations