Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies

Swamp Angel Study Site
Swamp Angel Study Plot (subalpine)

Senator Beck Study Site
Senator Beck Study Plot (alpine)

Putney Study Site
Putney Study Plot (summit)

Senator Beck Basin Stream Gauge
Basin Stream Gauge

St Paul Basestation
St. Paul RF Base Station

The Center for Snow & Avalanche Studies serves the mountain science community and regional resource managers by hosting & conducting interdisciplinary research and conducting integrative 24/7/365 monitoring that captures weather, snowpack, radiation, soils, plant community and hydrologic signals of regional climate trends.

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CSAS News: July 2009

Senator Beck Basin Plant Community Inventory Repeated

Peggy Lyon (right), Dawson White, and Sara Simonson
heading into Senator Beck Basin to begin 2009 plant survey

Beginning on July 6, 2009, five years after our July 2004 “baseline” inventory of the Senator Beck Basin plant community, a very talented team of expert alpine botanists performed a second, repeat inventory using the same set of 22 transects established in 2004.   Peggy Lyon and her assistant Dawson White, both of the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, and CSAS friend and collaborator Sara Simonson, from the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University, spent five very long and intensely focused days in the field, often on hands an knees, documenting the species present within 220 micro-plots (of 0.5 m2) along 22 separate transects ranging from 11,000’ to 13,000’.  New species not identified in 2004 were found, species that were identified in 2004 were found in greater or lesser abundance, and other variations and surprises emerged, demonstrating the value in long-term monitoring.  The team’s hard-won data was subsequently evaluated by another botanist  who took part in the 2004 study, Julie Crawford, using statistical methods designed to quantify diversity and variation in species distributions across the three elevation zones (tundra, treeline, and sub-alpine) targeted by this monitoring effort.  Although no conclusions about affects of global change can be drawn from just two sets of data, spaced five years apart, the 2009 effort was an essential link in what we hope will be a long chain of repeat studies with the statistical robustness to reveal the presence or absence of such affects and inform those interested in mountain systems in Colorado and elsewhere.   For more, see our baseline study page.

identifying plant species at Senator Beck Basin
Detail is everything, in the identification of as many as 15 plant different species, s
at differing stages of seasonal development, within a single 0.5 m2 micro-plot.

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