In the mid 1940s remnant tallgrass prairie near Colorado Springs was recognized in vegetation studies on the plains. Tallgrass prairie is unusual in the arid Great Plains, and is of significant conservation value, particularly given the past and present pressures of urban expansion, intense grazing, and water development. Our study examined the question of whether this community type still exists in the region, if the extent of the community type has changed since then, and whether the species composition has changed. We found that while true tallgrass prairie vegetation is no longer dominant at many of the sites used in the original studies, patches of true tallgrass prairie still occur in the area. The extent of tallgrass prairie in the vicinity has clearly declined over the past 70 years. The vegetation of remaining patches is composed of very similar species to those originally documented. We found that the dominant vegetation is still characteristic of true tallgrass prairie. Among the important grasses were prairie dropseed, indian grass, little bluestem), and big bluestem. Important widespread forbs indicative of true tallgrass prairie included american licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota), stiff goldenrod (Oligoneuron rigidum), white heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides), and purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea) among many others. We determined that overall precipitation and temperature in the locality has not changed dramatically since the 1940’s. The alluvial aquifer across much of the area is evidently little changed, but hydrology on a site-by-site basis is poorly understood. While the continued existence of some true tallgrass prairie communities here is reassuring, their diminished extent is cause for concern, especially given increasing pressure from urban expansion, livestock grazing, invasive species, and water development. The uncertain status of future temperature and precipitation, as well as the maintenance of critical surface and subsurface hydrologic regimes is also of concern.
Mining activity in the central Andes poses a serious threat to human health due to the release of heavy metals in surface water. Long-term exposure to elevated levels of heavy metals, including lead, cadmium, copper, and arsenic, are known to have severe detrimental effects on human health. Mining exposes large quantities of metal bearing rock, which oxidize in the presence of oxygen and water, releasing heavy metal ions into surface water. Surface water contamination in Perú as a result of mining operations is of particular concern due to a lack of regulation of large-scale mines. In order to determine the impact of mining on surface water heavy metal concentrations, water samples were collected in nine streams throughout our three watersheds in the central Peruvian Andes. Results showed [Mn] and [As] exceeded the EPA maximum allowable limits at 55% and 14% of sites, respectively. The [Mn] was significantly higher in impacted streams than non-impacted streams. The [As] was elevated in some non-impacted streams and below the EPA maximum allowable drinking water levels in some mine-impacted streams. While Mn appeared to be impacted by mining effluent, As seemed to have a natural groundwater source. This study suggests Mn and As pose a serious threat to human health in the regions of study. The [Zn], [Cu], and [Pb] seldom exceeded the EPA maximum allowable drinking water limit (5%, 3% and 5% of sites, respectively). Dry season [Zn], [Cu], and [Pb] do not appear to pose a serious threat to human health in these regions. Further research is needed to understand seasonal variations in both dissolved and particulate trace metal concentrations. Implementing a community-based water quality monitoring program in study regions may also afford local residents more autonomy and local knowledge regarding the impact of mining on heavy metal concentrations in their surface water.
The Colorado River is often referred to as the “lifeblood” of the American Southwest, as it sustains rapidly growing cities, feeds millions of agricultural acres, and forms some of the world’s most incredible natural features. The Colorado River is also one of the most highly dammed, diverted, and otherwise regulated rivers in the world. In the last few decades, the demands on the flows of this river have begun to exceed its supply, which is threatened not merely by over-allocation but also by drought and climatic uncertainties. The river’s dwindling supplies are no longer enough to support the Southwest’s rapid population growth in municipal areas while simultaneously answering to the demands of the more senior water rights holders, the agriculturalists. This thesis is an exploration of the current contentions between agricultural and municipal users of Colorado River water, with a focus on the alternatives available to address these ongoing issues. Of many options, including increased infrastructure and various conservation measures, water banking has been identified as the strategy most socially, economically, and environmentally qualified to address these pervasive imbalances in water supply and demand of the Colorado River.
The central Peruvian Andes is a region of varied geology and land use, likely affecting the surrounding watersheds in a variety of ways. Abnormally high levels of nitrite were measured in several streams in the Lake Junin and Cordillera Blanca regions. These high nitrite concentrations could be explained by several mechanisms: an artifact of sampling and storage, nutrient limitation, oxygen limitation, reduced reactions with hydroxyl radicals due to a reduction in Fenton oxidation reactions, pollution from Mn, As or NO2- or any combination of these factors. High nitrite levels are of concern because they can cause methemoglobinemia, a potentially fatal condition for infants or people with weak immune systems. Further studies are needed to better understand the cause behind the unusually high concentrations of nitrite in these streams, as well as the overall input of the cycle of nitrogen.
Abstract: Yellow Cedar is an ecologically, culturally, and commercially important tree species; its habitat extends 20° in latitude from Southeast Alaska to the Northern California. It is experiencing extensive decline in areas of low elevation, latitude, and drainage capacity. This decline is due largely to climate change decreasing the snowpack, resulting in root-freezing injuries. Future climate change will place even the northernmost reaches of its range in conditions conducive to mortality by the end of the 21st century, putting Yellow Cedar on a path towards extinction. As vast areas of Yellow Cedar forest experience mortality, the species is also slowly migrating north to newly suitable habitat. Its northward migration is hampered by meager dispersal capability and its niche traits which limit its competitiveness to marginal soils. The effects of Yellow Cedar’s northward migration needs to be better understood to properly implement conservation strategies that can protect the longevity of the species. In particular, how does Yellow Cedar colonization alter soil conditions and forest ecosystem function? Soil biogeochemical analyses in pioneer stands indicate that the presence of Yellow Cedar improves the suitability of soils to many forest species; soils have higher N content and are less acidic. The results also illuminate a decrease in the bioavailability of soil carbon with the presence of Yellow Cedar, which suggests that the species increases carbon storage capacity of soils in temperate rainforests. This suggests an increase in soil respiration in areas of decline, a positive feedback cycle from global warming. Yellow Cedar is an important case study of the global impacts of climate change on our biosphere and a harbinger for many species as climate change intensifies.
Community interactions form the foundation of ecosystems, but their complexity makes predicting species responses to new pressures a difficult challenge. For example, if climate change forces the upward range shift of one species in a system, closely interacting species will either suffer or excel under the new community compositions. This study explores the interactions between two closely related monkeyflowers (Mimulus tilingii var. caespitosus and Mimulus guttatus) and their shared pollinators in order to understand potential responses to future climate changes or species loss. We arranged plants in three community composition treatments (heterospecific, conspecific, and no neighbors) to understand how plant fitness and pollinator visitation are affected by neighboring plants. Specifically, does plant fitness decrease due to pollen limitation or heterospecific pollen deposition under any community treatment? Furthermore, how does environmental data illustrate the system’s response to climate variation at different temporal scales? In our experiment, M. tilingii produced fewer seeds under the conspecific community composition and pollinator exclusion treatments (both p<.001), likely due to intraspecific resource competition and pollen-limitation. Rather than impeding plant fitness, it appears heterospecific interactions may actually stabilize M. tilingii populations. Plants and pollinators also responded positively to higher temperatures and lower cloud cover, indicating sensitivity to climate. Thus, changes in plant or pollinator species abundances, or climate could severely impact the dynamics or viability of the system.
Despite being the largest US methane emitter, the main source of water pollution, the driving force behind species extinction and habitat loss, and an intensive natural resource user, animal agriculture is scantily regulated and almost never considered as an option for combating climate change. This thesis seeks to provide a comprehensive analysis of the widespread environmental harms of the meat industry to demonstrate why it must be controlled. The historic 2015 Paris Agreement provides a framework for policy makers to address several ecological and climate threats, and regulating animal agriculture falls directly in line with the provisions put forth in the agreement. In order for the US to uphold their emissions reductions commitment and duties under the Paris agreement, industrial animal agriculture must be addressed. Current policies are examined as either hindrances or tools for controlling the detrimental impacts of the industry, followed by recommendations for policy vehicles and outlets to regulate the widespread degradation from industrial animal agriculture. If the earth is to avoid catastrophic climate change and ecological collapse, the cow in the room must be addressed.
Urban agriculture has had a strong presence in American cities throughout history, whether from concerns of food security or desires for green spaces. In the past two decades, gardens have made a large comeback due to grassroots and community desire to build community and partake in the local food movement. Common literature has agreed on the benefits that gardens can provide for cities, but no study has found what it specifically takes to establish gardens successfully, in order for their benefits to consistently show for the long-term. This study determines what factors are necessary to establish community gardens with longevity in mind. Through extensive analysis of existing literature, this study finds that the three largest factors for establishing and maintaining community gardens are community interest, support for resources, and organized structure. This study then examines how these factors are specifically at play in Colorado Springs, as the city’s budding interest in gardening makes for an exemplary case study. For Colorado Springs, this study finds that while community interest and mechanisms for resource support are present when it comes to establishing gardens, in terms of longevity, a lack of consistent structure for supporting and maintaining community gardens could hinder the longevity of community gardens. It is proposed that more organization and structure for the gardens, especially in regards to leadership development, can promote the success of these gardens, as well as other gardens nation-wide, for the future by making gardens more self-sustaining.
During the summer of 2012, images of hillside homes engulfed in flames played on repeat on news stations across the country. In the foothills of Pikes Peak, the Waldo Canyon Fire burned 18,247 acres, destroyed 347 homes, and killed two people between June 23 and July 10, 2012. Catastrophic fires such as the Waldo Canyon Fire are increasingly common throughout the west, especially in the wildland urban interface (WUI). These mega-fires are far from the natural disturbances that occur in many Western ecosystems. Instead, they are the product of a century of federal fire suppression compounded by changing climatic conditions. This scenario is complicated by increasing development in the WUI, where houses literally add fuel to the fire . This research assesses the specific conditions that contributed to the production of vulnerability to the Waldo Canyon Fire.
Spatially-organized patches primarily composed of Alpine avens (Geum rossii) on Pikes Peak, CO give the tundra of the 14,000 ft. mountain a freckled appearance. The mechanisms causing formation and maintenance of these patches were examined using parameters such as vegetation height, species abundance, micro-topography, C:N ratios of soils and plants, and soil moisture. This study focused on eight patches by evaluating the above parameters along eight, horizontal 15-18 m transects that ran through the centers of the patches. Shockingly, vegetation height was two times greater within the patch compared to open tundra. This suggests nutrient accumulation within the patch parameters. In this thesis we analyze abiotic, top-down and bottom-up processes, to evaluate these patches. We conclude that this ecosystem is a bi-stable dynamical structure (Lotka-Volterra). In addition, scale-dependent feedback mechanisms (short-distance facilitation and long-distance inhibition) may be a primary contributor to patch formation and maintenance.
Treelines are climatically constrained ecotones existing worldwide. With global warming and climate change, treelines are expected to advance in elevation on a global scale. Previous research has shown that abrupt treeline shapes are advancing at far slower rates than diffuse treeline structures, indicating that temperature increases are not the only factor. Smaller-scale, endogenous factors may be at play including microclimates, tree-to-tree interactions and feedbacks. Our study at an abrupt treeline on Pike’s Peak aims to understand the effects of temperature and smaller-scale factors on seedling growth, in the effort to try and understand the feedbacks involved in treeline movement and formation. Results indicate that this specific abrupt treeline is creating a microclimate that facilitates seedling growth above the historical treeline. Once this new growth of seedlings matures, another abrupt treeline will form and perpetuate the process.
Alpine treelines are very unique ecotones which are visibly responding to climate change worldwide. As global climate change persists alpine treelines are expected to migrate into higher elevations. Not all alpine treelines however are uniform and the microclimates created at the surface have seen to be essential for seedling establishment. The particular microclimate along treeline will dictate how heat is distributed which will ultimately control tree survival. This study discusses how wind interacts with treelines when coming from different directions and where areas of sheltering are created. An area of interest was created along treeline on Pikes Peak in Colorado where wind speeds were measured along a transect moving from the forest up to the tundra above. As expected it was found that a large sheltered area of slow air was created when wind moves uphill over the forest. Downhill moving wind shrinks this sheltered area especially during periods of faster wind. Wind parallel to treeline was found to be more turbulent and sensitive to the local spatial structure. As climate change intensifies it is expected that these sheltered zones created by treeline structure will be altered and become more essential for seedling establishment.
Current science education standards mandate the inclusion of inquiry within curricula. However, existing research fails to address the correlation between the teaching of inquiry and the learning of inquiry skills. A unique opportunity presents itself at the Catamount Center where undergraduate students work with small groups of 5th grade students to facilitate a 4-week “Inquiry Unit.” This paper adapts and applies an existing theory by Ruiz-Primo (2010) to introduce a methodology that assesses the presence and quality of conclusion components in 5th grade inquiry papers. As a result of this research, several hypotheses have been generated regarding the successful implementation of the Inquiry Unit at the Catamount Center.
This thesis will provide background information on the region, explore the cultural and scientific significance of the area, the series of executive actions that have left the monument in limbo, the unique management structure put in place by the Obama administration, the stakeholders who advocated for and against the monument, the law and policy by which BENM was created, the legality of the executive power to modify or revoke a monument, and provide policy and management recommendations that could ensure the protection of the monument moving forward. Through this exploration, it will become apparent that for a number of environmental, cultural, political, and legal reasons BENM should be upheld as it was originally designed by monument proponents and established by the Obama administration.
My thesis aims to look at gender roles in the Scream series and how they add or subtract from the misogyny that is usually associated with the horror genre. I mostly focus on women, but the roles of men are explored too.
Martha Gellhorn (1908-1998), an American writer and journalist, and María Teresa León (1903-1988), a Spanish writer and activist, happen to be two women writing during the Spanish Civil War. They also happen to be in relationships with the renowned authors: Ernest Hemingway and Rafael Alberti. However, the reason for comparison is not founded in their gender nor their relationships with their famous literary husbands. The point of comparison that is intriguing lies in the fact that they are both intellectuals in metaphorical exile who bring double perspective to their writing, according to the theories of Edward Said, a Palestinian-American theorist. Through analyzing how León and Gellhorn bring their double perspectives to their writings, the paper will show how because their metaphorical exiles are different, the way in which they deliver their political messages in their writings varies.
The following paper will use the civil wars of Spain and Northern Ireland as two case studies for the analysis of the individual expression of trauma. I will establish the historical contexts of the two wars, followed by an examination and comparison of the collective and individual silences and the memorialization of the civil wars. Afterwards, I will analyze the effects of trauma on the individual expression of the civil wars. Finally I will discuss the limitations of the archives. Through the comparative study of two civil wars and the different methods of memorialization and representation, an argument may be made that in order to discuss an individual’s traumatic experience he or she may use the polyphonic discourse thereby allowing the speaker to both represent his or her experiences as well as begin to process any past trauma.
This project is a translation of selected chapters from Sirena Selena, vestida de pena, by Mayra Santos-Febres. The accompanying Translator's Note and Afterward describe translation strategy employed as a practice rooted in the importance of preserving difference and unspoken rhetorics.