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Grad student talk - Gophers, trees, and rocks: Who decides where montane meadows are generated?

Thursday, October 10, 2013, 4:30PM - 5:30PM


Eric Winchell


RL-1 room 269

Alternate title

Gophers, trees and ungulates on the montane hillslopes of the Colorado Front Range: A linked geomorphic and ecologic system


Pocket gophers have been shown to be significant geomorphic agents in several settings. In this talk I will explore their roles in montane hillslopes of the Colorado Front Range. The efficiency of hillslope sediment transport and vertical mixing accomplished by gophers in this landscape is highly non-uniform, with greatest efficiency in meadows, and reflects a strong interaction between gophers, seedling establishment and ungulate trampling. The feedbacks in this system may govern not only the spatially averaged transport by gophers, but forest-meadow dynamics. The key is that gophers cannot be viewed in isolation from either their ecological or geomorphic settings. This talk will also touch on a budding numerical model of the geomorphic-ecological system in which we explore the feedbacks that result in meadow hotspots of activity.