The Impacts of Flaming Gorge Dam on Avian Communities of the Green River

Julia Halverson

The middle Green River is home to a diverse and distinct assemblage of birds. The relatively new presence of Flaming Gorge Dam as a discontinuity in the river continuum has caused major changes to the riparian vegetation that may have in turn affected the avian community. The invasion of tamarisk favors ground-dwelling and shrub-nesting species, while the simultaneous decline in native cottonwoods and willows threatens those species that nest or roost in these communities. Other factors also come into play to affect the avifaunal composition and abundance, including the direct impacts of flow regulation on avian food sources such as fish. As predicted by the Serial Discontinuity Concept, the indirect effects of the dam on the avian community should dampen downstream as a more natural flow regime takes over.