Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wetland Ecologist Denise Culver Receives CSU Distinguished Administrative Professional Award

At her core, Denise is first and foremost a ‘plant geek,’ with an infectious passion for petals and perigynia that has propelled her through an incredible and highly successful 20 years at CNHP. Throughout that time, she has written and submitted 96 proposals, out of which 90% have been successfully funded (an astounding $3,720,882!). She is a member and past officer of the Colorado Native Plant Society and an instructor in the Native Plant Master Program. She has been the project leader for over 20 Colorado county surveys for critical biological resources and is the lead author for the Field Guide to Colorado’s Wetland Plants: Identification, Ecology and Conservation. She also assisted in designing and developing the Colorado Wetlands App (CNHP’s first app).

Denise’s positivity and strong work ethic shines through to colleagues, co-workers, and students alike. She never comes up short in her commitment to educate others about wetlands and wetland plants. Congratulations, Denise!

Denise and her wonderful Nakai atop the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

CSU Seniors Join CNHP to Address Anthropogenic Disturbances in Colorado

By George Simpson

Ecosystem Science and Sustainability is one of the majors offered through Colorado State’s Warner College of Natural Resources. The degree program teaches students how to better manage the Earth’s natural resources through the application of science in decision and policy making areas. After four years in the program, many students are finishing their final semester and preparing to graduate. For most, this means enrolment in the curriculum’s capstone class ESS 440. The distinguishing feature of the class is a semester long project working with a local agency. The projects are designed to allow students to apply the skills they have been carefully refining over the past four years in order to help practitioners solve a local sustainability problem. Student have multiple project choices to choose from, and thus are divided into smaller teams to work in throughout the semester.

Our team will be collaborating with the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP) throughout this semester. The Colorado Natural Heritage Program works with rare and imperiled species in Colorado, conducting research and sharing their expert information with stakeholders in order to help ensure that Colorado’s biodiversity is not diminished. CNHP has mapped over 1,800 Potential Conservation Areas (PCAs) in the state that contain species of biodiversity significance. Our team will be running an analysis of their PCAs to determine what areas in Colorado have experienced the greatest impacts from anthropogenic disturbances. This information will allow us to prioritize conservation efforts by combining knowledge about the biodiversity these areas contain, and the level of disturbance the area has experienced from anthropogenic activities. Included with this assessment, the team will create a summary of its findings to be shared with the general public.  

While a seemingly complex task such as this may appear daunting at first glance, 2017’s ESS 440 CNHP project team has fielded some real talent, fully qualified to complete the task at hand. Aspiring young scientists Julia, Alex, Daniel, Caden, Leo and George, working under the guidance of CNHP’s Michelle Fink and David Anderson, will use this semester to better understand the sources of anthropogenic disturbance in Colorado. The team’s composition has allowed us to blend technical expertise and creativity skills to best complete this project.

The ESS 440 project team from left to right: Leo, Caden, Danielle, George, Julia, and Alex.

Alex and Julia are the team's ArcGIS wizards. They cast virtual ArcGIS spells to extract, clip, interpolate, overlay and buffer CNHP’s data so that it can be grown into a map that tells the story of anthropogenic disturbance in Colorado. Their work will produce a map of Colorado depicting potential conservation areas in the state and the extent to which they are affected by a number human activities.

The next step in the team’s analysis will be to pick apart the results, identifying overlying trends and drivers of anthropogenic disturbances. Danielle and George will pore over the results, looking for spatial patterns and reoccurring themes between sites. The two will compile the team’s work into a digestible, easy readin’ scientific report that details the project’s goals, methods, results, and outcomes.

The team’s final members, Caden and Leo, are in charge of crafting the projects final piece, a summary of our work designed to be shared with the general public. They will shape the project's key points into an interactive story of the project that people can access to learn more about this project and the work that CNHP does.

As the semester winds down, stay tuned for our team’s completed project and access to our Storymap that you can use to learn about sources of anthropogenic disturbance that affect outdoor areas in Colorado near you.

Monday, January 30, 2017

CNHP Paid Internships for Summer 2017!

CNHP is looking for up to six Colorado State University undergraduate students interested in expanding their knowledge and experience in conservation science. Interns will build skills in plant identification, vegetation sampling, animal monitoring and surveys, monitoring protocols, data collection, and describing conservation values. Interns will be paid $12/hr, with per diem provided for overnight field trips. Program begins June 12, 2017 and ends August 18, 2017. Applications are due by March 1, 2017.

For more information read the full announcement on our website here:

The 2016 Siegele Conservation Science interns. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Natives in Your Landscape!

Would you like to use Colorado native plants in your landscape? Check out the exciting new webinar below about using natives in your garden. You will learn about natives for sunny areas, for clay, for shade, for formal situations, for fragrance, for fall color, and more!

Why use natives? You can increase the sustainability of your garden, save money from less watering, attract native pollinators, and enjoy a bounty of Colorado’s native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees.

WEBINAR - Native Plants For Every Landscape Situation – March 16, 12 noon to 1 PM, taught by Irene Shonle, CSU native plant expert and County Extension Director.

Interested in receiving a CSU certificate for your knowledge about natives, becoming a Native Plant Master volunteer, or finding offerings in locations across the state? Learn more at or call 303-271-6621. For research-based information on 1,000+ Colorado plants, see Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Life as a CNHP Work Study: Taming of the Shrew

By Alyssa Meier

At the end of the hall here at CNHP, there is a small lab in which, not ten feet apart, sit two very different worlds. On one side, we have a freezer filled to the brim with shrew specimens dating back to 2012. On the other, a cabinet loaded to the top with plant specimens all the way from 1993.

Collection of shrew specimens.
Shelf of plant specimens from the 90s.
This past semester, I had the privilege of being a part of two projects that dealt with these specimens. The first project involved taking the old plant specimens, digging through twenty-year-old field journals, and trying to glean enough information to make a label so I could turn them in to the Colorado State University Herbarium. The second involved separating the shrews into individual baggies and giving each a catalog number so we could cart them off to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Each of these projects had its own merits. Making labels for the plants involved a bit of detective work. I was snooping into the past—the far-off years of the 90s when I was just a kid and these plants were still alive. Of course, the field journals of each individual botanist had their own nuances to navigate just to obtain any relevant information, and this sometimes involved tracking down GIS files and surfing through records in Biotics. Many times the information was simply lost over the years.

A pressed rusty lupine (Lupinus pusillus) specimen.
Comparatively, working with shrew specimens was an overload of information. Dozens of grocery bags loaded with sandwich bags loaded with shrews. All of them frozen together. The unfortunate thing about studying shrews is that, because they are so small, it is difficult to draw any inference on habitat or location without the use of pitfall traps or other lethal methods. Thus, the specimens collected are bagged and frozen together. My job was to thaw out the shrews (the smell is indescribable), meticulously peel them apart (so I don’t accidentally rip them in half), put them in separate snack bags, and give them a catalog number.

Me gently peeling apart two shrews that have been frozen together.
Botany and zoology—they both have their ups and downs. One thing's for certain: reeking shrews and crispy plants are still better than case changes.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Bethke Elementary “Bat-Bots” and Creative Solutions to Deter Bats from Wind Turbines

The Bethke Elementary Legos Robotics Team, called the Bat-Bots, invited Rob Schorr to talk with them about bat conservation and ecology. The Bat-Bots are tasked with coming up with solutions to reduce bat mortality at wind turbines. In 2012, it was estimated that over 600,000 bats died at wind turbine facilities in the United States (M.A. Hayes. 2013. Bats killed in large numbers at United States wind energy facilities. BioScience 63:975-979). They were all aware of the importance of bats for insect control and pollination, and were concerned about conflicts between renewal energy from wind energy development and bat conservation. They wanted to know about possible solutions to reducing bat deaths, while maintaining access to clean energy. Schorr and the team discussed options to use ultraviolet (UV) light as a deterrent (P.M. Gorresen and others. 2015. Dim ultraviolet light as a means of deterring activity by the Hawaiian hoary bat Lasiurus cinereus semotus. Endangered Species Research 28:249-257). The team discussed how to design buildings with UV lights, and were contemplating ways of designing new turbine facilities with dim UV light deterrents.

The Bethke Elementary Bat-Bots include Case L., Carly L., Juliana S., Ella N., Abigail F., and William W., with Schorr.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Discussing Bat Conservation and Jumping Mouse Habitat Restoration at Western State Colorado University

In November, Rob Schorr visited with the student chapter of The Wildlife Society at Western State Colorado University to talk about bat conservation. After driving to Gunnison, he met Dr. Pat Magee and his students and spent several hours talking about CNHP and some of the bat conservation projects CNHP is involved in. Of particular interest was student involvement in recruiting climbers to take part in the Climbers for Bat Conservation project. This project is a partnership between bat biologists and climbers to discover new roosting colonies of bats in rock crevices. While at WSCU, Rob also spoke with Dr. Thomas Grant’s master’s-level restoration ecology course about the challenges of doing habitat restoration for bats, and about the habitat restoration work he is conducting for Preble’s meadow jumping mice with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Douglas County Open Space.
Western State Colorado University on a chilly November afternoon.

Monday, December 12, 2016

46th Annual Symposium of the North American Society for Bat Research

In October, Rob Schorr attended the 46th Annual Symposium of the North American Society for Bat Research in San Antonio, Texas. During his time there, Rob presented a poster discussing the progress and data analysis from a project to monitor maternity colonies of little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus). He and Jeremy Siemers have been conducting a mark-recapture study of little brown bats at two roosts in the Yampa Valley. The intent of this project is to develop baseline estimates of survival, understand roost fidelity, and describe roost conditions for the little brown bat.
Rob manning his poster at the 46th NASBR meeting.
The Mission San Antonio de Valero (The Alamo) was right across from the meeting venue.