Supporting biological research to preserve, protect, and sustain wildlife and other natural resources in the Elk Mountains of Colorado, and the urban and wildlife interface in the Roaring Fork Watershed.
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Anton Uhl Photo          The beautiful Elk Mountains provide vital habitat for plants and animals.

The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory
The AFBL is funding the first stage of an exciting proposal from the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab in Gothic. RMBL scientists have been conducting outstanding scientific research for over 85 years that has contributed to advancements in science and public policy. in 2009, RMBL launched a series of weather and data collection sites in Gunnison County called RMBL.net.which provides real-time information for scientists and the public on their web site.

The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) advances the scientific understanding of nature that promotes informed stewardship of the Earth. Science conducted at the Lab is remarkable for its combination of diversity and depth...
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The focus of most weather stations is solely to track long-term data; stations installed as part of the RMBL network are unique in that they are designed to be integrated with field work. Consequently the weather station will serve as a cost-effective beacon for attracting field scientists. Additionally, because of the Lab's profile, the weather station will attract the attention of scientists that might otherwise not be aware of it.



Researching black bear-human interactions and black bear ecology in Colorado

Summer of 2010:
Sharon Baruch Mordo, recipient of the first Bob Lewis Fellowship Award, is completeing the final chapter of her dissertation which will be available on her lab website.

You may access her presentation at: Defenders of Wildlife Conference in Denver, Nov. 16-18, 2009.

Recent publications by Sharon and collaborators: Baruch-Mordo, S., S. W. Breck, K. R. Wilson, and J. Broderick. 2009. A Tool Box Half Full: How Social Science Can Help Solve Human-Wildlife Conflict. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 14:219-223.


URBAN BLACK BEAR ECOLOGY STUDY
FINAL AFBL PROJECT UPDATE 10/14/08



"MANY THANKS TO THE COMMUNITY..."
...this project would not have come to life without the support of local citizens, municipalities, organizations and agencies. We begin by thanking the numerous landowners who allowed us to trap on their property, gain access to monitor bears and backtrack to GPS locations, and conduct the experiments. We also thank the city of Aspen and Pitkin County for continuing support in gathering GIS data, participation in our project, finding housing and parking solutions, and financial support. In particular we would like to thank the Aspen Police Department for being a valuable partner in applying the enforcement experiment this year. Numerous organizations assisted in achieving our goal including the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, 10th Mountain Division Hut Association, and the Aspen SkiCo. We also thank the Aspen Ranger Station of the US Forest Service for valuable support including logistics, housing, parking, and lending a hand whenever needed. Also thanks to the Colorado Division of Wildlife, in particular individuals in Area 8 including the Area Wildlife Manager, Perry Will, and the local District Wildlife Manger Kevin Wright. Their involvement has been invaluable in completing this project from understanding of the system and its management challenges to logistical support through rain, snow, and Colorado's abundant sunshine. And last, but not least, we have appreciated the gracious support of the Aspen Field Biology Lab throughout! Their logistical, financial, and spiritual support never wavered and we can't thank them enough! We will miss working with you all...

Sincerely,

Sharon Baruch-Mordo & Dr. Ken Wilson
Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology
Colorado State University

Dr. Stewart Breck
USDA-WS-National Wildlife Research Center

John Broderick
Colorado Division of Wildlife

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including the final project update of 10/14/08
Bird Communities as Indicators of Riparian Habitat Quality in the Roaring Fork Watershed:


2009 Field Survey reveals female Wiliamson's Sapsucker in aspen grove.

To date AFBL has awarded $11,000 and the Maki Foundation contributed $2,000 toward the 2009 field season. Statistical analysis of several years of data will be necessary to develop the Roaring Fork Bird Index of Biological Integrity (BIBI).

Please read the exciting proposal by Delia Malone and John Emerick Phd. to consider how you might become involved in this three-year research and volunteer training program.

2010 REPORT:
Riparian habitat and bird surveys are currently being conducted by Delia Malone.
2009 REPORT:
Report Pending
2008 REPORT:

BIRD COMMUNITIES AS INDICATORS OF RIPARIAN HABITAT QUALITY IN THE ROARING FORK WATERSHED, SOUTHERN ROCKY MOUNTAINS, COLORADO
- Delia G. Malone and John C. Emerick -

Introduction

Riparian areas are critical components of stream ecosystems (Ward 1989). Riparian vegetation type, quality, cover and extent contribute to instream physical habitat and influence water quantity and quality. Disturbances or alteration to riparian vegetation may also alter riparian habitat structure and functions, which can lead to aquatic habitat degradation.
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How do bird community assemblages relate to changes in vegetation characteristics in riparian zones?



The bird community on the left bank of RF6-2.3 (photo above) where structurally complex native vegetation characterizes riparian habitat, differs from the bird community at nearby RF6-3.2 where vegetation structure and composition has been simplified and altered by a variety of development activities (photo below).



Proposal:
Bird Communities as Indicators of Riparian Habitat Quality in the Roaring Fork Watershed, Southern Rocky Mountains, Colorado


A main benefit of using an avian-community based index for monitoring ecosystem integrity is that it imparts a multi-species approach that, if successful, is more likely to respond to the condition of the entire ecosystem rather than to the needs of a single species. In a preliminary study as part of the Roaring Fork Stream Health Initiative, we collected one year of riparian bird data. Results appeared promising but we believe that additional census data are needed to develop a statistically significant Bird Index of Biotic Integrity (BIBI) and, that to be reliable, a bird IBI should be tailored to regional differences in avian community responses to disturbance and habitat use. Grant money will be used to develop a Bird Index of Biotic Integrity (BIBI) tailored to the Roaring Fork Watershed on the Western Slope of the Southern Rockies in Colorado.

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Roaring Fork Stream Health Initiative:

Catalog of Stream and Riparian Habitat Quality for the Roaring Fork River and Tributaries, Central Colorado

UNDERSTANDING BIOTIC RESPONSES AND FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO CLIMATE CHANGE:
CARBON IN OUR DAILY LIVES
The Carbon in our Daily Lives brochure explores everyday activities that most of do regularly -- from heating and powering our homes to driving, skiing, eating, and flying -- and quantifies each. The purpose if to provide awareness of our connection between daily life and the globe's climate. It may also provide a basis for informed action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the choices we make as consumers, citizens, and homeowners.

Click here to view or download the PDF file of the
Ecological Research Assessment for the Roaring Fork Watershed, Colorado.


Roaring Fork Watershed
D. Neubaum images

Figure 1.
The Roaring Fork Watershed lies within four Colorado counties. Elevations ranging from 6,625 ft to 14,349 ft. influence nine diverse vegetation types.

Figure 2.
Public lands encompass 83% of Pitkin County, with a majority held within the White River National Forest with approximately 551,791 acres in Pitkin and Gunnison Counties. The majority of private land development occurs in the valleys and adjacent slopes resulting in the conversion of half of the agricultural lands from 1960 to 1980.


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