Wintertime on Colorado’s Front Range

The past couple months I have been completing a couple documents to aid in the management of two species of plants, one that is endangered and one that could be.  Both of these species happen to inhabit parts of the North Park Region of Colorado, one inhabiting the Coalmont barrens that spot the sagebrush steppe of North Park and the other inhabiting the unique dune system near the Colorado-Wyoming border.  The two species I have been working with are the Coalmont formation inhabitant, Phacelia formosula and the sand loving Corispermum navicula.

Recently the Denver Botanic Garden completed their genetic research for Phacelia formosula and Corispermum navicula that shed additional light on the two species population dynamics in their respective habitats.  For the Phacelia species the research was about two additional Phacelia species in the area and their relationship to each other as well as Phacelia formosula.  The results of the research state that the Phacelia found in Jackson County, CO are all Phacelia formosula and that there might be distinct subpopulation throughout Jackson County but a more intensive DNA collection needs to be done to get the refinement needed to determine the boundaries of the potential subpopulations.  The other research Denver Botanic Gardens just completed was on the Corispermum species that inhabit the sand dunes in North Park.  The question was if there were two distinct species of Corispermum or a single population of only Corispermum navicula present.  From the results the question was answered as a single population of Corispermum navicula with a very plastic morphology throughout the dune system which accounted for the questioning of if there were two species present within the Dune system.

So in an effort to aid in the persistence of these two species of plants a different approach was taken for each of the species.  Since Phacelia formosula is an endangered species a Recovery Plan was written when the plant was listed, but it is outdated and needs to be updated, so to aid in that I wrote up a status report for the species to be a reference in created a newly updated Recovery Plan for the species.  For all intents and purposes the document is done, aside from a few conference calls to discuss certain aspects of the reports.  The second species of concern is Corispermum navicula and since it is not listed and has not been monitored due to the unknowns surrounding the status of the population, but since genetic research has shown that the population is all the same species a monitoring plan can be constructed to gain a better understanding of the species.  The monitoring plan is the second project that I completed in the past couple months, which was based loosely on the pilot study that was ran in fall of 2014.

With two major reports completed I now start to turn my focus to field season only a few months away and start to make plans about new plot locations for certain species, new monitoring for certain species and of course seed collection goals for the 2015 field season.