Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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Resilience Landscapes: Influence of fire and forest restoration on spatial and temporal distribution of fish and invertebrate communities


August 2015 - June 2020


The Las Conchas Fire began 26 June 2011 and spread at a rate of 26,000 acres per day burning 156,593 acres until fully contained 1 August 2011. At that time, the Las Conchas fire became the largest fire in New Mexico. In less than one week, 30,039 acres or one-third of the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP) was burned. One month after the wildfire was fully contained, a series of rains resulted in exceptionally high flows and large ash input throughout streams on the Preserve. Fish surveys following the ash-laden flood events revealed a 95% reduction in trout abundance (Rio San Antonio, Rito de los Indios, and East Fork of the Jemez). The severity of the fire within the catchments of these streams resulted in variable flow and elevated sediment transfer which have affected recovery of fish assemblages and the benthic macroinvertebrate community compared to pre-fire conditions. Recovery of native fish populations on the VCNP are listed as priority needs. Thus, our objectives are to compare physical stream habitat metrics, water quality, and fish recruitment between pre-burn and post-burn conditions using a before/after control impact analysis.
The fifth year of field surveys (fall 2015 and spring 2016) post-fire revealed continued suppression of the salmonid population compared to pre-fire with no fish recruitment in the burned areas. While density of adult brown trout have increased from less than 1.0 fish/100 m2 (August 2011) to 8.0-23.8 fish /100 m2 (May 2016), fish densities remain well below pre-burn densities (51-156 fish/100 m2).


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 101

Masters Students: 232

Phd Students: 160

Post Docs: 58

University Staff: 268

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 677

Scientific Publications: 1887

Presentations: 4313



Funding Agencies

  • Valles Caldera National Preserve


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey