Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Presidio and Salt Cedar May 29, 2012

The Presidio BBS route begins at the intersection of TX 67 and TX 170 and follows TX 170 NW along the Rio Grande. The route has thickets of salt cedar or tamarisk along the Rio Grande that have been killed off by a salt cedar leaf beetle (Diorhabda sp.). These salt cedar thickets had high species diversity with a lot of insectivores and Neotropical migrant birds and were always active until the salt cedar was killed by the beetles.The salt cedar in the photo below is the brown line at the base of the hills, just in front of the white buildings on the south side of the river. 
Here's an area where the salt cedars come closer to the road.  These thickets were monocultures of salt cedar with no other vegetation.  The salt cedar tracked the river closely. 
Short term, these areas of dead salt cedars seemed to perhaps have more woodpeckers than before the trees died.  Long term avian population changes will depend on restoration of riparian vegetation and recovery of the natural vegetation. 
Portions of the salt cedar were burned, and these areas were very quiet.  I'll be interested to compare the data for this BBS route as the area recovers and vegetation fills in where the salt cedars were present.