Ecosystems of the Colorado Plateau: What Does the Future Hold?

Wednesday, March 7 | 5:30PM | Third Street Center, Carbondale
Thursday, March 8 | 7PM | Hallam Lake, Aspen

While many of us go into nature to see flashy, furry animals, it is often the smallest organisms out there that really make ecosystems work. This certainly is true in deserts, where the tiny components of biological soil crusts do most of the heavy lifting. They keep soils from eroding, thus preventing dust (and so preserving our snowpack!) and keeping sediment out of streams. They keep soils fertile by contributing nutrients and carbon, enhancing plant growth and making them more nutritious for animals . They are also cute! Come listen to the fascinating story of how such tiny things can be a central organizing force in 40% of the Earth’s land surface.

Dr. Jayne Belnap is the foremost authority on desert ecosystems, particularly the Colorado Plateau. Dr. Belnap has spent the last 30 years studying soils, vegetation, and the impacts of past and current climates and disturbances in these ecoystems. Her most recent studies have focused on the impact of dust on regional water supplies, and she has used past plant distributions to predict future vegetation patterns. 

Naturalist Nights are made possible through a partnership between Wilderness Workshop, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES), and Roaring Fork Audubon. In addition, we thank the following sponsors for their support of the Naturalist Nights program: