Month 1-CO State BLM Office

This is my second CLM internship. Last year I worked in Vale, Oregon, and this year I have been given the opportunity to work with Carol Dawson at the Colorado State BLM office. I’m so glad and thankful to be here. I’m really looking forward to my work, and love living in Colorado. This year I will do some Seeds of Success collections, but most of my work will entail rare plant monitoring. So this month I have been familiarizing myself with several of the rare species we will be monitoring over the summer. I’ve become most familiar with a few Penstemon species, P. grahamii, P. scariosus var. albifluvis, P. gibbsenii, and P. debilis.

The BLM has been monitoring P. grahamii yearly since 2005, excluding 2006-2008 and 2013, using a permanent macroplot and restricted random sampling method. Last year the study population had been decimated, with only 16 individuals remaining, as compared to 148 in 2012. The severe decline is presumed to be from a herd of sheep mistakenly allowed to graze in the area. This year we will return to the location in order to evaluate whether or not continued monitoring is possible. Most likely, a new, larger population will need to be located and a new study site set up. The other CLM intern here, Nathan, has been working on new population locations for us to consider. P. grahamii is one of the species for which I have been preparing a status report.

Penstemon grahamii

A photo of P. grahamii I found online-I’m hoping to see it in flower this season, but is unlikely

The other species for which I’ve been preparing a status report is Penstemon scariosus var. albifluvis. This species shares a very similar habitat to P. grahamii. Both are endemic to the oil shale barrens of the geologic Green River Formation in the Uinta Basin, and face the threat of oil and gas exploration. The CO BLM has yet to initiate any demographic monitoring study for this species. We plan on implementing such a study this summer.
P. gibbensii and P. debilis are two more rare Colorado species and congeners of P. grahamii and P. scariosus var. albifluvis. There is extremely limited genetic information about P. grahamii and P. scariosus var. albifluvis, so I’ve been reading through the available information on P. gibbensii and P. debilis in order to gain a better understanding of their genetic structure, which may shed light on the possible genetic structures of P. grahamii and P. scariosus var. albifluvis.

Penstemon scriosus var. albifluvis

A photo of P. scariosus var. albifluvis I found online-I’m looking forward to posting my own pictures soon.

I have also been brushing up on my statistic skills. I won’t really be analyzing any data until after the field season, but I’ve been making some box plots and normal probability plots with the data from previous years of Penstemon grahamii monitoring. This allows me to see if the collected data follows a normal distribution, and thus how accurate statistical estimates are.

Sorry this is such a boring post. Until next time!


Colleen Sullivan


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