To enable assessment of risks of water management to riparian ecosystems at a regional scale, we developed a quantile-regression model of abundance of broadleaf cottonwoods (Populus deltoides and P. fremontii) as a function of flood flow attenuation. To test whether this model was transferrable to narrowleaf cottonwood (Populus angustifolia), we measured narrowleaf abundance along 39 river reaches in northwestern Colorado, USA. The model performed well for narrowleaf in all 32 reaches where reservoir storage was <75% of mean annual flow. Field data did not fit the model at four of seven reaches where reservoir storage was >90% of mean annual flow. In these four reaches, narrowleaf was abundant despite peak flow attenuation of 45-61%. Poor model performance in these four reaches may be explained in part by a pulse of narrowleaf cottonwood expansion as a response to channel narrowing and in part by differences between narrowleaf and broadleaf cottonwood response to floods and drought. Editor Z.W. Kundzewicz; Guest editor M. AcremanCitation Wilding, T.K. Sanderson, J.S. Merritt, D.M. Rood, S.B. and Poff, N.L. 2014. Riparian responses to reduced flood flows: comparing and contrasting narrowleaf and broadleaf cottonwoods. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 59 (3-4), 605-617.