Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Human Impacts on the Colorado Life Zones

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "Human Impacts on the Colorado Life Zones"— Presentation transcript:

1 Human Impacts on the Colorado Life Zones

2 Vocabulary Consequence - The result or effect of an action 2) Ecology
- The study of how living organisms and non-living elements are inter-connected 3) Fragmentation - To break habitat up into pieces 4) Indirect Effect This slide is just to quickly introduce some of the vocabulary that I use in the presentation that may be unfamiliar to the students. I don’t necessarily think this is the best way to teach these concepts, but it is a relatively quick way to let them hear the words before the presentation starts. - A result of an action that is not obvious at the time, or is the result of a chain reaction 4) Exotic Species - A plant or animal that moves into an area where it did not evolve to live. This happens when certain conditions change to make it possible.

3 Rules of the Web of Life:
Everything and everyone is connected together. All of our actions have consequences for other members of the web. This slide is useful to introduce the main theme of the presentation, which is that everyday things we do to fulfill basic human needs as well as pursue entertainment and other luxuries, have direct and indirect effects on everything that we are connected with. This theme is brought up throughout the presentation, and is linked with how ecology teaches us about the way that we’re connected, who and what is affected by certain actions, and practical solutions to balance human needs & wants with environmental consequences. See next slide for balance concept.

4 Consequences to Our Environment
Balance Consequences to Our Environment This slide depicts the main challenge that this whole presentation is about: How to go about fulfilling our needs and lifestyles while at the same time understanding and protecting the natural world around us that makes Colorado such a unique place. BALANCE! How do we go about learning to do this? We first need to learn about the unique Life Zones (which is why this is a really COOL opportunity!), what it’s like in each zone, who are the plants and animals that live there, how they adapted to the conditions of their locations, and how do certain human actions potentially affect them. Human Needs & Wants

5 Colorado Life Zones Alpine 11,500 +ft. Sub alpine 10,000 – 11,500 ft.
Montane 8,000 – 10,000 ft. This slide brings them back to the introduction to the Colorado Life Zones presentation and reorients them as to the specific places that will be discussed in this part of the presentation. Foothills 5,500 – 8,000 ft. Riparian Plains 3,500 – 5,500 ft.

6 East West x Q: Why do we live in a dry environment?
In the first presentation, the concept of rain shadow effect is introduced to give an explanation as to why we live in a hot and dry environment here on the east side of the Continental Divide. There are ways that plants and animals adapt to living in this environment which are discussed in the first presentation. Now, we introduce humans into the picture and talk about how we adapt to living in this dry environment. In this slide, the idea that in Colorado, most of our large cities are located in this very dry zone, which means that there is a BIG need for water for millions of people, in a place where water is scarce. You can talk about some of the everyday things that we use water for and prepare them to start thinking about where our water comes from, which is discussed more later. A: Rain Shadow Effect Thinking question: Where does our water come from?

7 Human Impacts on the Prairie
Changes to wildlife habitat Air quality Water quality This topic slide is a good way to remind them of what the native grasslands/prairie looks like and get them to remember the plants and animals that make up the food web of this life zone. In that context, the potential ways that the prairie can change as a result of human activity. Three main changes are presented in the bullets.

8 Changes to the Land Need: Housing
Consequence: Loss of farmland & wildlife habitat Need: Jobs & Homes Need: Transportation Before getting into this slide in depth, it is important to reitterate that there are many things that we must have to survive, like houses, jobs, markets, roads, food and water and it is fine and necessary to pursue their acquisition. However, we must look at some of the consequences to these actions. This slide is a visual way to show that what once was native open prairie undergoes significant transformation with the addition houses, cars, roads, buildings and industry. Topics to briefly mention with Housing include: the loss of wildlife habitat and farmland. With highway systems comes fragmentation – or the cutting up of habitat into smaller and smaller pieces, making it more difficult for wildlife to browse and hunt in their habitats, putting them in danger when they cross highways, and the potential effect of increased noise. With Jobs & Homes, the city is an efficient way for people to fulfill these needs, but people, cars and factories create lots of waste - from waste water, to car exhaust, to garbage. They ways in which we clean up or dispose of this waste, will determine how much we affect the environment. If we don’t learn to make WISE CHOICES about they ways in which we deal with this waste, the consequences can include water & air pollution. The way we learn to make WISE CHOICES is to learn about all of our life zones, so we are aware of who and what may be affected by our actions and ways we can make the impacts less. Consequence: Fragmented wildlife habitat Consequence: Water & air pollution

9 How Does Agriculture Effect the Prairie?
Oil Land Changes Transportation Need: Food Water Look at the patterns of plant growth. Feedlots What is an indirect effect of growing food ?

10 Water Quality An effective way to set the stage for this topic is to introduce a scenario like the one that follows: It is a sunny Saturday afternoon, and Joe Schmoe is returning from a baseball game. On his way home, he drives through some road construction and gets oil and tar on the underneath side of his car, so he decides that when he gets home he will wash his car, but first he decides to give it a much needed oil change. Pose this question to the students: “As he starts to wash his car, what do you think might be in the water besides soap?” Where does this water go?” It may be useful to point out that water that comes from inside his house, such as the laundry machine, sinks, toilets and showers, gets piped out in sewer lines to a water treatment facility, where it is filtered and purified. Outside however, water that flows into sidewalk drains, or storm water drains, often flow directly into streams and rivers. “If everything that goes down the drain gets dumped into the rivers, who might be affected?” The idea is to get them to use their knowledge of the food chains of RIPARIAN zones to understand that plants, fish, birds, and even people are potentially affected if harmful stuff gets dumped down these drains. Even garbage that we might toss onto the street. So remember: WE ARE ALL CONNECTED! WE CAN PREVENT HARMFUL EFFECTS BY LEARNING TO MAKE WISE CHOICES! Besides his car, Joe is very proud of his green lawn, so since it’s already on his “to do” list, he fertilizes his lawn, and runs the sprinkler for several hours. It is possible that he’s in a hurry and doesn’t like to read directions, so he just puts on what looks like a good amount of fertilizer, plus a little extra for good measure. Now, as the pellets dissolve in the water, where does a lot of that fertilizer go? Ultimately to the river. Again, responsible choices such as using the correct amount of fertilizer and watering a little at a time, can make a big difference in protecting fish, birds and people downstream.

11 Farm chemicals can move into streams by erosion.
Same goes for farmers – fertilizers, chemicals and soil can be dumped into streams and rivers through the process of erosion. By understanding the prairie and making wise choices about how much water and fertilizer is right for his/her fields, a farmer can avoid erosion and potentially harmful effects to stream environments. Farm chemicals can move into streams by erosion.

12 We need to make sure our waste is disposed of correctly and safely !!!
Food chain effects of water pollution. The pollution cycle The Pollution Cycle: This just illustrates potential sources of pollution, food chain pathways and possible implications of pollutants getting into streams and rivers. It is useful to have the kids talk their way through this picture. For the right hand picture, it is useful to begin with a brief talk on fertilizers. Fertilizers are like nutrition for plants. On land, they are usually considered to be a really good thing for growing plants, however, when they get into water – they can have some very serious consequences. The process that occurs when fertilizers enter waterways can be described simply as follows, without introducing the technical term, eutrophication : There are very tiny plants in water, called algae, that also really like the nutrition that fertilizers bring, and they will begin to grow very rapidly when there is lots of it. Eventually, the surface of a lake or river can get completely covered with thick green algae, which blocks light. It becomes essentially a buffet for the microbes at the bottom that feed on all the dead algae. The microbes need oxygen to be active and they can easily use up the oxygen in the lake. When all the oxygen gets used up, there is not enough for the fish and insects, and they ultimately die. The picture on the right shows a fish kill after too much fertilizer drained into the lake. This slide can be a pretty big downer! So, I try to wrap it up with the take home lesson and easy way to prevent this from happening, which is illustrated in the bottom bullet. What is the lesson ?? We need to make sure our waste is disposed of correctly and safely !!!

13 Air Quality Consequences Lots of cars! Smog
Pollution builds up in atmosphere – brown cloud This is a pretty big issue on the Front Range of Colorado and is one that is visible to us all. The top “brown cloud” picture, is Denver, and it is good point of reference to point out the tops of the tallest buildings in Denver which are barely visible in the smog. The bottom “brown cloud” picture shows that it also occurs in Fort Collins. Two main sources of smog contributing gasses are industrial emissions and car exhaust. A chemical reaction occurs when these gasses move into the atmosphere and combine with sunlight. This reaction is how smog is formed. A few consequences to air pollution are illustrated in the bullet box – the most important being that pollution doesn’t just “blow away” or disappear. It will be removed by falling out of the atmosphere as small particles, or be dissolved in rain which fall into lakes, streams and forests up in the montane, subalpine and alpine environments. At this point, a good question to ask might be: “What might be an indirect effect of air pollution?” It doesn’t disappear – it can fall or rain out of the atmosphere onto forests, lakes, streams Human health problems

14 Human Impacts in Riparian Areas
Changes to stream environments Water quality So, far human impacts on water have been discussed pretty thoroughly in the context of potential waste that enter into streams and lakes. This section will focus more on physical changes to streams. These physical changes can have the potential effects which are bulleted above. Fish & wildlife habitats

15 This slide is useful for refreshing the students on what the riparian area is, and the food chains that they support.

16 Dams Why do we need dams? Dams have destroyed many
Riparian systems in the United States, and in the world. A preface for this slide is to remind the students of the question that was asked at the very beginning of the presentation : “Where do we get our water in this hot and dry environment?” Dams are a way that we have been able to store water. Dams block the flow of rivers, and the water that flows downstream is regulated by an opening called a spillway. The effect is that water levels often fluctuates up and down, depending on how full the reservoir is. Many of the plants that are adapted to riparian areas can’t survive the dry conditions of low water flow, or the fast rushing waters when lots of water is released. “What would happen if the plants that birds, reptiles, fish and animals depend upon change or are removed?” Another potential effect of dams is changing the temperature of water. The example of the differing temperatures between the deep end of the pool and the shallow end is a good example of how temperature changes with depth. Remind students that, as mentioned in the introduction presentation of the Life Zones, fish such as trout need cold waters, but their habitat could be drastically changed if water gets too shallow. Why do we need dams?

17 Are there consequences to moving water from rivers to reservoirs?
Grand Ditch Horsetooth Reservoir This slide introduces the main source of water for Colorado’s Front Range communities. Most of the rivers that we take our water from are filled by snowmelt, but even rainfall and snowmelt are not enough to serve all the millions of people who live in Front Range cities. Because lots of snow falls West of the Continental Divide, the snow there is a big source of water (top right picture), so in the late 1800’s, the Grand Ditch was dug (by hand!) to move water from the West side to fill East side Reservoirs. This is the main source of water for us still today! Are there consequences to moving water from rivers to reservoirs?

18 Human Impacts in the Foothills & Montane
Changes to wildlife habitat Increased Fire Risk Invasive plants species

19 Threats To The Foothills
The important point of this slide is to talk about threats to the foothills and how more houses reduces resources, but also causes more human wildlife interactions. Scenario: someone who lives in the foothills, decides to take an evening walk and encounters a mountain lion, which is a native inhabitant of these areas. The way that people handle situations in which they come into contact with wildlife, determines the ability of people and wildlife to coexist. What would happen to the food chain if people got very upset because they were scared of the mtn. lion, and decided to exterminate it from their back yards? At this point, you can talk about the way that food chains keep things in balance. If you decrease the top predators, the herbivores (have them name them) increase b/c they’re not hunted; too many herbivores causes stress on the plants. If plants get stressed, weeds from human environments have an advantage and might be able to move in, which may or may not be good wildlife food or habitat. Rattlesnakes can be another example that is commonly considered a pest and killed. THE IDEA HERE IS TO DRAW LINKS BETWEEN HUMAN BEHAVIOR EFFECTS ON THE FOOD CHAIN AND POTENTIAL INDIRECT EFFECTS. AGAIN – EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED TOGETHER! Simple solutions are possible when we understand our surrounding environments. Since we know that mountain lions are most active early in the mornings and at dusk, we can choose to walk at a different time of night, and not to leave our pets outside at night. When people start building houses in the foothills it pushes out animals that use to live there. Can you think of any other problems new houses cause?

20 Wildfire in the Foothills & Montane
Here it would be good to bring back the BALANCE aspect of human risk and consequences for natural ecosystems. This is a great example of a new problem that has arisen since more and more people are building homes in places where fire is a natural part of the ecosystem. A NEW CHALLENGE FACING PEOPLE IN COLORADO! We are just starting to learn ways to balance human safety with protecting the ecosystems, and they way we are learning is through studying the ecology of forest fires, as well as practical solutions that homeowners developed to protect their homes such as “defensible space” (see slide in “practical solutions”). EXAMPLE: Ecology has taught us that thinning (which is expensive $$) is not very effective at stopping fire (b/c they are hot crown fires) in lodgepole pine forests and may make the forest less healthy. In Ponderosa pine forests, ecology has taught us that if we thin, or set small prescribed fires, we can keep these areas free of brush and small trees. When a fire starts near homes, it will stay on the ground (no ladder fuels) and it is easier to protect people’s homes & firefighters as well as a way to save money. Prescribed fire is a way to that we mimic natural fires to keep ponderosa forests healthy. (Remember that the thick bark of ponderosa pine protects them against ground fires.) How do we balance human safety & keeping environment healthy?

21 Human Impacts on the Subalpine and Alpine
Even though there are not as many towns and people in these high-elevation environments as there are on the grasslands/prairie, these are popular places for recreation.

22 Snowmobiles Ski Resorts Pets Humans Livestock Grazing
This is just a general slide that presents several different ways that people interact in and potentially affect subalpine and alpine environments. If there is time, the students can comment openly about their ideas. A main idea of recreation is to remember that thousands of people will use the same trails as you over time, and that if everyone picks wildflowers, collects interesting rocks, or toss out apple cores, the additive effect can result in changes to that environment and the animals and plants that inhabit these areas. Pets on leashes don’t chase and scare wildlife. Livestock Grazing

23 Tough Problems Need Creative Solutions !!
Wildlife habitat Water Supply Air Pollution Tough Problems Need Creative Solutions !! Weeds Fire This transition slide simply introduces the “solutions” part of the presentation, and recaps on some of the ideas that have been discussed so far. Water Quality Human Interactions with wildlife Waste Disposal

24 Tough Problems Need Creative Solutions!
Habitat Corridors Habitat corridors: These are a great creative solution to resolving the issue of the danger inherent to wildlife migration across highway corridors, by providing an “overpass’ of natural areas that allow safe passage. Xeriscaping is a method of landscaping or gardening that is catching on in areas that don’t receive much precipitation. The amount of water used is decreased by replacing grass that needs lots of water with plants that need less water. Learning to conserve water in our homes is important and easy by such ways as turning off the water when we brush our teeth, or watering gardens only at the cool times of the days so that evaporation doesn’t reduce the amount that plants get. Plants that like dry weather Create New Wetlands

25 Here’s some more simple solutions…….
Ride a bike instead of taking the car ! Reuse & Refill! Recycling H2O Purifiers Simple Solutions Cont’d: Basically the reduce, reuse, recycle theme. Water bottles is a very common , and yet very wasteful practice that common among kids and adults alike, and one that also has some really simple alternatives. Riding bicycles reduces the amount of air pollution – and keeps us healthy! Keep it out! Use Non-disposable containers

26 Important Lessons: 1) Human activity can affect our environment in many different ways. 2) Sometimes, the effects of our actions are hard to see. 3) Human needs & wants should be BALANCED with environmental consequences. This is a basic recap and overview of the take home messages. The background of this slide is supposed to dim when the bullets appear, however some software programs don’t activate this command. Therefore, the background may need to be lightened or the font color changed to make this slide effectively visible on your computer. 4) There are always things we can do to prevent or make less impact on the environment!

Download ppt "Human Impacts on the Colorado Life Zones"

Similar presentations

Ads by Google