Field Courses - Winter Ecology
Jan 13 through February 27, 2016
Wintertime offers insights into the natural history of organisms and function of ecosystems that are not often appreciated in summer visits to the field. Winter Ecology is a survey of physical and biological processes and their interaction in wintertime snow-covered environments. Through classwork, fieldwork, and individual projects, we will focus on the dynamics of high-elevation ecosystems in the western US. Based from the CU Mountain Research Station's year-round Moores-Collins Science Lodge, we will spend 5 weekends exploring the ecology of upper montane, subalpine, and alpine landscapes in winter. We will study plant, vertebrate, and microbial adaptations to winter and the dynamics of terrestrial, aquatic, and snowpack environments. We will consider how winter processes play a role in “growing season” dynamics, shape landscapes, and are important factors in conservation and management of natural resources of the Rocky Mountains.
Climate change may have profound effects on mountain forests and alpine tundra, and the benefits they provide to surrounding communities such as water, recreation, and forage. Warming of 2-5 °C is expected in the Rocky Mountains over the next 50 years.
Since 2009, a warming experiment run on Niwot Ridge by the University of California, Merced has been experimentally determining what...