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Canyonlands Natural History Association is a nonprofit organization established to assist the scientific and educational efforts of the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the USDA Forest Service in southeast Utah.

Photo: CNHA sales area in the Arches Visitor Center
Alpine Habitat Baseline Study

Barb Smith - District Wildlife Biologist for the Moab/Monticello District of the Manti-La Sal National Forest
Dr. Jim Fowler - Ecologist with the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station in Flagstaff, Arizona

The La Sal Mountains' alpine communities support several endemic and unique plant species. One Forest Service sensitive plant species, the La Sal daisy (Erigeron mancus), is found nowhere else in the world. Prior to the current study, little was known about the population biology of this species.

Our primary goal in this study was to measure basic population biology parameters for the E. mancus population on the ridge from Mt. Laurel west to treeline. We estimated plant density and patch size in order to estimate the total number of E. mancus plants on this ridge. A secondary goal was to describe vascular plant species composition within the area populated by E. mancus. For both of these goals, we were also interested in the influence of elevation within alpine habitats.

We also incorporated two more speculative goals to our work. One research question was: is the black rosy finch a summer resident of the alpine area in the Middle Group of the LaSals? Another was conducting a floristic survey of the snow glade plant community in the spruce-fir forest at base of Mt. Mellenthin to see if it contained rare plant species.

We addressed these research goals and questions in the context of current and predicted global warming and the need to establish baseline ecological information in order to understand future climate change effects.

To view the final report for this project, click here.
Appendix I - Checklist of vascular plants collected during the study.
Appendix II - Bird species seen and/or heard in alpine and timberline habitats on Mt. Laurel ridge, La Sal Mountains.

Alpine Habitat Baseline Study The La Sal Daisy (Erigeron mancus)
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