Monday, September 5, 2016

Bioblitzes and Butterflies: An Intern's Summer

by Gary Olds, CNHP Siegele Intern

Salida, Rifle, Carbondale, Boulder, Arapahoe County, and even New Mexico are among the places I was able to take my summer adventures, through CNHP’s Siegele internship. I relished the opportunity to participate in three BioBlitzes at Browns Canyon National Monument, Spring Valley Ranch, and Rifle Ranch, with fellow interns and CNHP staff and partners. This is where I got my introduction to biological surveying, including plant and animal collection and identification. Following these events, I participated in the Boulder Butterfly Survey, spending several days completing transects in eighteen different Boulder County Open Spaces. Despite run-ins with barbed wire and stinging nettle, I thoroughly enjoyed catching butterflies and learning to identify several species. I also took part in surveys in Arapahoe County Open Spaces. My largest project this summer was with the GLORIA project, or Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments. After weeks of training and preparation, I spent an eight day trip with five others in the Pecos Wilderness in New Mexico. We established GLORIA sites on four different peaks, the tallest standing at 13,000 feet. I contributed by collecting soil samples and helping to measure out the plots. Amazing weather and breathtaking views made for a fast and memorable workweek. I am very appreciative of the work experience, mentorships, and friendships that CNHP has been able to provide for me this summer.

CNHP staff and partners survey for birds at Rifle Ranch during a bioblitz. This was the third bioblitz the interns participated in.

We completed 18 butterfly survey transects in open spaces in Boulder, Colorado. Each transect was located in a different open space, with ecosystems ranging from shortgrass/mid grass prairie, riparian, and ponderosa pine woodlands. The Flatirons can be seen in the background.

Woodhouse's toads were among the diverse wildlife we observed during biological surveys at West Bijou Open Space in Arapahoe County, Colorado. 

Geothermal activity heat a cave and old mine, providing a comfortable habitat for a population of Townsend's big-eared bats in central Colorado. This population is protected and monitoring through chipping (and chip-reading technology) and thermal camera recording.

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