Riparian zones provide a host of important ecosystem services related to water quality, stream bank integrity, wildlife habitat, and instream inputs of energy and woody debris (Gregory et al., 1991). Because of the combination of abundant resources and frequent disturbance, riparian forests support fast-growing trees that accumulate biomass quickly, both in live and dead pools that include standing trees, roots and soil (Van Pelt et al., 2006; Stella et al., 2012; Matzek et al., 2014). Riparian forests therefore constitute a potentially substantial carbon sink, especially in water-limited regions where grasslands or other non-forest vegetation types predominate. However, because it occupies comparatively little land area compared to forests traditionally exploited for timber, this forest carbon sink has been virtually ignored by foresters and by policymakers, and the impact of river management strategies on its size and dynamics is largely unknown.
In this proposed work, we seek to fill in the knowledge gap between our current understanding of forest dynamics in the Rhône fluvial corridor, and the development of a new paradigm for management of the Rhône that incorporates payment for ecosystem services, by characterizing the carbon stocks of naturally regenerated riparian forests (Gruel, 2014). We profit from our previous riparian forest inventory, undertaken in 2014 with the support of OHM-VR, which was intended to determine how natural forest regeneration was responding to current and historical regime changes. In that inventory of 88 plots (distributed along the four sectors of Pierre-Bénite, Péage de Roussillon, Donzère-Mondragon, and Montélimar), we measured the density and basal area of live and standing dead trees, along with the density and volume of coarse woody debris (Figure 2). Now, we request a small additional investment in fieldwork and data analysis that will allow us to calculate the carbon stocks in our inventory plots, scale the analysis to the whole river from Lyon to the Mediterranean, and provide the impetus for developing an accurate methodology to estimate carbon credits resulting from current and future management actions.
Virginia Matzek (PI) is a restoration ecologist and Assistant Professor at Santa Clara University in California, in the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences. Her research focuses on linkages between ecological restoration and the provision of ecosystem services, principally carbon sequestration. In addition to her ecological work concerning forest nutrient cycling, carbon uptake, and the physiology of invasive plants, she also studies people's motivations for restoring ecosystems, and how policy incentives and scientific information interact to determine restoration outcomes. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation (IIA-1427595), the US Department of Agriculture/NIFA Climate Change (#2012-00882), and The Nature Conservancy (LWS#04052012). At SCU she teaches courses in restoration ecology, statistics, and environmental science research methods.
Stanford University Ecology Ph.D. 2006
University of California, Berkeley Environmental...
John Stella (PI) is riparian ecologist and an Associate Professor at the State University of New York, Syracuse (SUNY-ESF), who studies the influence of ecological drivers on vegetation communities in riparian zones, forested wetlands, streams, and rivers. In 2013-14, he was a Fellow at the Collegium de Lyon His work is relevant for designing effective restoration strategies in regions where ecosystem needs compete directly with human land uses and water demand. Research areas include semi-arid regions of the U.S. (California, Arizona) and Southern Europe (Rhône and Sado river basins), and the Adirondack mountains of New York. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation (#EAR-1024820), the USDA Forest Service, CNRS (PICS), and CALFED Science Program, among other sources. At SUNY-ESF he teaches courses in watershed ecology and management, statistical modeling, and restoration ecology, serves on numerous graduate student committees, and currently supervises a lab...