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Biotic Communities

of Arizona

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Northern Arizona Riparian Woodland

North of the Mogollon Rim of central Arizona on the Colorado Plateau and to the west riparian vegetation is dominated by three tree species: cottonwood, willow, and box-elder. In a few areas along the north slope of the White Mountains above about 8000 feet aspen and Colorado blue spruce are also common growing along streambeds where water is plentiful. At lower elevations in both northern and southern Arizona an introduced shrub, tamarisk or salt-cedar, grows in riparian areas. This shrub has wreaked havoc on many riparian ecosystems however by outcompeting native species and eliminating them in many areas. This in turn has affected the animals dependent on these native plants, most notably the area’s birdlife. Because of the abundance of water and diversity of plant life, riparian areas are critical habitat for numerous animals and birds.
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