The Verde River Watershed is home to one of the rarest forests on Earth, the Cottonwood-Gooding Willow Gallery. Formed by the connection between the river and its desert surroundings, these forests, when healthy, support an incredible diversity of bird species. To measure riparian forest health, we compared the current number of bird species in a region to a list of species expected to nest in the riparian area of the region.
How is it measured?
A total of 87 unique bird species that nest in the riparian forests of the Verde River Watershed were identified by the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Element Occurrence database and the Arizona Breeding Bird Atlas. Combined, these databases provide what we called a baseline list of bird presence for each watershed zone. To compile data for riparian birds observed in the past two years, we used observations documented in the citizen sicence app eBrid. The final calculation for the Riparian Bird indicator was the fraction of species that were observed by citizen scientists over the past two years.