Rocky mountain juniper influences on stream flow dynamics
Invasion of Rocky Mountain Juniper is of great concern across the inter-mountain west, especially in riparian areas, where they are believed to remove large quantities of water from streams. However, we currently lack data to assess if and how much water junipers are using compared to other native shrubs/trees, such as willows and cottonwoods. To address the question, we are conducting an experiments study at the Snowcrest Ranch, located in south-central Montana, along with the Greenhorn River. In this study, we are using three independent measurements to assess water use, water source, and water status between junipers and willows. After one year, we will remove juniper from the riparian areas and assess if any of the water use and quantity parameters have changed. This research will help improve our understanding of water-use dynamics between juniper and willow, as well as assess the outcome of juniper removal on stream hydrology.
Dr. Hu is Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and affiliate faculty in the Montana Institute on Ecosystems at Montana State University. She will be conducting this research with the help of Nathan Korb, Montana Freshwater Director at The Nature Conservancy and Carter Kruse of Turner Enterprises, Inc.