We surveyed montane meadows in the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades for two field seasons to compare commonly used aquatic and terrestrial-based assessments of meadow condition. We surveyed (1) fish, (2) reptiles, (3) amphibians, (4) aquatic macroinvertebrates, (5) stream geomorphology, (6) physical habitat, and (7) terrestrial vegetation in 79 meadows between the elevations of 1000 and 3000 m. From the results of those surveys we calculated five multi-metric indices based on methods commonly-used by researchers and land management agencies. The five indices consisted of (1) fish-only, (2) native fish and amphibians, (3) macroinvertebrates, (4) physical habitat, and (5) vegetation. We compared the results of the five indices and found that there were significant differences in the outcomes of the five indices. We found positive correlations between the vegetation index and the physical habitat index, the invertebrate index and the physical habitat index, and the two fish-based indices, but there were significant differences between the indices in both range and means. We concluded that the five indices provided very different interpretations of the condition in a given meadow. While the assessment of meadow condition changed based on which index was used, each provided an assessment of different components important to the overall condition of a meadow system. Utilizing a multimetric approach that accounts for both terrestrial and aquatic habitats is the best opportunity to assess meadow condition, particularly given disproportionate importance of these systems in the Sierra Nevada landscape. To accept the results of just a single index in the absence of the others is potentially misleading and costly.
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|Advisor:||Moyle, Peter B.|
|Commitee:||Eviner, Valerie, Tate, Kenneth W.|
|School:||University of California, Davis|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 48/06M, Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Ecology, Environmental science|
|Keywords:||Aquatic, Meadows, Sierra Nevada, Terrestrial, Wetlands|
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