Friday, February 25, 2011

Bat paper in the Journal of Wildlife Management

Corynorhinus townsendii
The better to hear you with, my dear. A Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii). Photo by Jeremy Siemers.

Of the nearly 20 species of bats in Colorado, the Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) is the species of greatest conservation concern with 2 of the 5 subspecies listed under the Endangered Species Act. This bat uses roosting resources, such as caves and mines, which are declining in availability and are prone to disturbance by humans. For this reason, Mark Hayes, a PhD candidate at University of Northern Colorado and former student of CNHP Zoologist Rob Schorr, began a study to model Townsend's big-eared bat hibernacula use in Colorado.

Using 9 years of mine survey data compiled by Colorado Division of Wildlife's (CDOW) Bats/Inactive Mines Project, Hayes, Schorr, and Kirk Navo of CDOW compared characteristics of Townsend's big-eared bat occupied and unoccupied mines. They found that Townsend's big-eared bat hibernated in mines with multiple portals and portal temperatures near 0°C. Understanding characteristics for Townsend's big-eared bat occupied mines allows land managers to prioritize conservation of similar mines. For more details see Hayes, M.A., Schorr, R.A., and K.W. Navo. 2011. Hibernacula selection by Townsend's big-eared bat in southwestern Colorado. Journal of Wildlife Management 75(3):137-143.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Online Data Request Form

The CNHP Biological and Conservation Data system is used to evaluate projects for potential impacts to rare resources. By working early in the planning phase of a land management or development project we strive to avoid and minimize impacts while considering alternatives that allow projects to be implemented.

Information from CNHP's state-wide data system is available to the public, and can be used for conservation planning and to help facilitate the design and implementation of ecologically sound development projects. CNHP has worked with landowners, local planning departments, government agencies, consulting firms, and conservation organizations. New pipeline, roads, mines, and general conservation planning are excellent examples of projects where CNHP information has been of use. Learn more about the kind of data we have and our data request fee structure.

All data requests go through CNHP Environmental Review Coordinator, Michael Menefee. In addition to calling or emailing Michael directly (see our contacts page), we have recently implemented an online data request form. We hope this additional option gives you the flexibility to contact us in a way that best suits you. If you have any feedback regarding the online form, don't hesitate to let us know.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Summer job pools filling up fast

As a follow-up to our earlier flurry of field and mapping technician job postings (here, here, and here), we wanted to let all you prospective applicants out there know that 4 of the 7 pools are either officially filled or have so many applicants already that we have pulled the announcements from our Employment page so we can get down to the business of processing all the applications. So, if you still haven't applied to one of our remaining job pools, don't delay!

As always, you can apply to more than one job pool, but please do so separately for each position and be sure to clearly state for which position you are applying.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Banding Together

Brown-capped Rosy-Finches, found almost exclusively in Colorado, are the focus of a White River National Forest Color Banding Program. With their habitat and breeding sites above timberline, these high elevation birds have been poorly monitored. Due to the limited range of the species, along with recent population declines, the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, and the Audubon Society all consider the Brown-capped rosy finch a species of concern.

Last week, we were able to help out at the banding station near Snowmass, Colorado. The lead biologist for the Program, Kim Potter, has been banding Rosy-finches since 2006. The goal of the White River Banding Program is to fill in knowledge gaps about the range of the birds, as well as winter movements.

Kim Potter, lead biologist for the White River National Forest Color Banding Program, holds a newly banded Brown-Capped Rosy-Finch. The color band on the bird's left foot is red, representing the banding site in Pitkin County.

The banding site, located at Snowmass Resort, provides a high elevation banding site where flocks of rosy-finches visit the feeder. The ski patrol staff, along with other Snowmass employees, kindly stock the feeders and allow use of a nearby cabin for the banding Program.

CNHP staff member, Bernadette Kuhn, holds a Grey-Crowned Rosy Finch at the banding station on Sam's Knob, Snowmass Ski Resort.

For more information on Brown-capped Rosy-Finches, check out Jason Beason's banding reports on the RMBO blog or the species profile on the Audubon Society website.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Online Rare Plant Guide updated

Online Rare Plant Guide Screenshot

Our online Rare Plant Guide is a heavily used resource by area botanists, plant ecologists, and land managers. It was originally created as a set of static html web pages some dozen years ago as a companion to the 1997 hard-copy guide, and has sorely needed an upgrade for a while now. We have now completed the first steps of this upgrade! Please take a moment to look over our new and improved Online Rare Plant Guide.

A big thanks go out to Ryan Nelson, CNHP web intern, Garrett Pichler, CNHP Systems Administrator, and Michelle Kamandy, CNHP botany work-study, for making this upgrade possible. But wait, there's more! (or will be eventually) The current upgrade focused on bringing the look and feel of the guide in line with the rest of our website and improving navigation. Some content was updated (mostly the G and S-ranks and federal status for each species), but further updates, additions, and improvements are planned for the future, with a projected completion date of spring 2012. So stayed tuned, and please update your bookmarks if you link to our Rare Plant Guide. Thank you!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ecological Systems: Greasewood

The Greasewood ecological system accounts for less than 450,000 acres in Colorado, where it is typically found near drainages on stream terraces and flats, on alluvial fans along streams or arroyos, or as rings around playas. In eastern Colorado, occurrences are primarily in the southwestern portion of the plains. Large occurrences are also found in the lower elevations of Colorado’s western valleys and throughout much of the San Luis Valley. Elevations range from about 4,000 to 7,700 feet. Greasewood flats usually have saline soils, a shallow water table and flood intermittently, but remain dry for most of the growing season. These open to moderately dense shrublands are dominated by black greasewood, often with additional shrubs and graminoids that tolerate saline soils.

Greasewood stands are used by some shrubland birds, such as the sage thrasher, and small mammals including the white-tailed antelope squirrel. In the San Luis Valley, these shrublands are home to rare local subspecies of the silky pocket mouse and thirteen lined ground squirrel. Here also the rare slender spiderflower occurs in alkaline playa wetlands that are imbedded in greasewood flats. Some large tracts of greasewood shrubland are included within federally owned lands managed by the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or the Bureau of Land Management, but are generally not part of protected areas. Occurrences of this system are threatened primarily by agricultural and energy development.

Overall biodiversity, threat, and protection status scores for greasewood in Colorado.

A "windrose" graph depicting greasewood status for individual scoring factors.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

One more job posting

We have added a seventh job pool to our Employment and Volunteering page!

This posting is for up to 12 Zoology Field Technicians to work throughout the state of Colorado this summer.

Those hired will survey for mammals, amphibians, birds, and invertebrates. Specific study sites will be in various locations throughout the state. These positions will require extensive travel and long days in the field, and the ability to navigate in remote areas using topographic maps, compass, and GPS. These positions may also involve properly collecting and preparing specimens for identification when appropriate.

First consideration of applicants will begin February 28, 2011. Applications will be accepted for future consideration through December 31, 2011. Read the full announcement.

Please note, we have a number of very similar-sounding job announcements up right now. You can apply to more than one job pool, but please do so separately for each position and be sure to clearly state for which position you are applying.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Back from Capitol Hill

DC in January. At least there wasn't any snow at the time.

In what is becoming an annual pilgrimage, CNHP Director Dave Anderson was on Capitol Hill last week while visiting the NatureServe national offices in Arlington VA. He was able to share with our Senators and with Congresswoman DeGette some of the exciting things CNHP is doing, and ask them to pay attention to continued funding for the kind of work that we do.

Dave and NatureServe director Mary Klein at Diana DeGette's office

During his visit, he participated in kicking off NatureServe's Strategic Plan for 2012-2017 – and brings some valuable lessons home to CNHP's upcoming strategic planning workshop.

The NatureServe and Natural Heritage Network partners hard at work planning for the future.

The NatureServe planning workshop developed a set of eight goals, each with several milestones, for NatureServe to work on from June 2011 to June 2012. The Biotics roll-out and development was the key theme that all participants worked on together, and then divided into teams to define seven other goals. Everyone has learned a lot about how to make this process more effective over the last three years of planning meetings, so a lot of progress was made this year.

Even so, Dave was happy to get out of the latest east coast snowstorm and back to Colorado! (Just in time for our own record-breaking cold snap - brrr!)