Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Wilderness Society looks at Colorado's rare plants

Barbara Hawke, the Dolores River Basin Wildlands Coordinator for The Wilderness Society wrote a great blog post about a recent field trip she lead in the Adobe Badlands, where she focuses on the rare and imperiled salt shrubland plant species that CNHP botanists work to conserve as a part of the collaborative Colorado Rare Plant Conservation Initiative.

Take a moment to read what Barbara has to say about A Subtle Kind of Wilderness.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ecological Systems: Mixed Conifer Forest

These are mixed-conifer forests occurring on all aspects at elevations ranging from 4,000 to 10,800 feet. Douglas-fir and white fir are the most common dominant trees, but as many as seven different conifer species may be present. In many areas of the state these forests form a matrix with large stands of other forest types such as ponderosa pine or aspen. Natural fire processes in mixed conifer stands are probably highly variable in both return interval and severity. Douglas-fir stands are characteristic of drier sites, often mixed with ponderosa pine. More mesic stands are found in cool ravines and on north-facing slopes, and are likely to be dominated by white fir with blue spruce or quaking aspen stands. Fire in these cool, moist stands is infrequent, and the understory may be quite diverse.

A number of common and rarer bird species may be found in these forests, including the white-crowned sparrow, mountain bluebird, Clark’s nutcracker, Williamson’s sapsucker, and red-naped sapsucker.

Mixed conifer forests cover more than 850,000 acres in Colorado. Nearly 70% of this area is federal lands, primarily those managed by the US Forest Service, but lacking wilderness designation. A substantial portion (15%) is on private land. Consequently, these habitats are generally in good condition, with minimal threats, and reasonable protection. Occurrences in the Front Range are vulnerable to the impacts of housing development, while those in western Colorado are often adjacent to active oil and gas development.

Overall biodiversity, threat, and protection status scores for mixed conifer forests in Colorado.

 A "windrose" graph depicting mixed conifer status for individual scoring factors.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

CNHP takes over maintenance of COMaP

The Colorado Ownership, Management, and Protection (COMaP) project was initiated by Dr. David Theobald, Associate Professor in the College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University (CSU). The goal of COMaP was to build a statewide protected areas map for Colorado from all of the disparate sources of land ownership and management data throughout the state. The first version of COMaP was released on May 28, 2004 as COMaP v1.

Annual updates and improvements to COMaP through version 8 have been funded by the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). In 2010, funding was provided via a USGS GAP Stewardship proposal to allow COMaP to become integrated with their national Protected Areas Database (PAD-US). At that time, responsibility for maintaining, updating, and distributing COMaP became a collaborative effort between CNHP and the CSU Geospatial Centroid.

Maintaining COMaP is a natural fit within CNHP's mission and, indeed, many other Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers across the nation (all part of the Natural Heritage Network) are the state stewards for protected areas data.

With the funding from the PAD-US project, CNHP was able to update COMaP again, and version 9 is now available for download from CSU's Geospatial Centroid. This round of updates focused on state, regional, and local government lands in addition to GOCO funded conservation easements.

We would like to thank all of the agencies and organizations that submitted updates and corrections, your contributions have been essential to the success of this project!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Zoology journal article

CNHP Zoologists Rob Schorr and Brad Lambert, in collaboration with Eric Freels of the Dolores Public Lands Office, have published a paper in the journal Herpetological Conservation and Biology.

The paper is:
Schorr, R.A., B.A. Lambert, and E. Freels. 2011. Habitat use and home range of long-nosed leopard lizards (Gambelia wislizenii) in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 6(2):312-323.

Eric Freels, Wildlife Biologist for the Dolores Public Lands Office records habitat characteristics at a sample plot. Photo by Rob Schorr.

The paper reports on Rob and Brad's past fieldwork radio-tracking lizards and provides valuable information about this poorly studied and rare species.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

CNHP Botanist wins award from Michigan Botanical Club

CNHP Botanist Pam Smith has been awarded the Isobel Dickinson Memorial Award for the best student paper published in The Michigan Botanist in 2007. (2007? Yes, well, these things take time...)

The paper that won the award is: Smith, P.F. and D.W. Woodland. 2007. Forest Composition Study of the Great Lakes Coastal Forest at Warren Dunes State Park, Berrien County, MI. The Michigan Botanist: 46(2), pp 33-62.

The topic of this paper was part of a larger study conducted by Pam for her Master's thesis:
Smith, P.F., and D.W. Woodland. 2006. Vascular Plants Study of Warren Dunes State Park, Berrien County, Michigan. The Michigan Botanist: v45(1), pp 1-58.

The Michigan Botanist is a peer-reviewed journal about plant life in the Great Lakes Region, and is published quarterly by the Michigan Botanical Club, the native plant society for the state of Michigan. The club will announce the award at its 2011 fall meeting.

Congratulations Pam!