The Lois Webster Fund of Denver Audubon helps fund research and education projects that promote the conservation of Colorado non-game wildlife. Each year, the Lois Webster committee carefully reviews submitted proposals and commits funding to worthy proposals within our fiscal limitations.
This year, the Lois Webster Fund committed funding to the following studies
Response of bats and associated nocturnal food webs to bark beetle kill
Amanda Bevan, University of Northern Colorado
Little is known about how bats are affected by beetle kill and the ensuing changes in forest structure and food web complexity. This study will survey the vegetation, sample the insect prey population and use acoustic detectors to learn what species of bats are using which areas of the forest. This study will contribute to our understanding of the effects of human-caused environmental changes to bat biodiversity by documenting the impacts climate change is having on bats in high elevation ecosystems, as these habitats are expected to become increasingly important refuges with climate change.
Photo Credit: Allyson L. Webb
Understanding the effects of trophic interactions on Mountain Plover brood habitat selection & survival
Casey Weissburg, Colorado State University
This study seeks to better understand the relationship between a critically endangered bird, the Mountain Plover, and Burrowing Owl and Swift Fox. All three share the shortgrass prairie habitat of Colorado, a habitat that is also endangered. By understanding their interactions, better land management decisions can be made to benefit the habitat and its residents.
Photo Credit: Bill Bouton
Experimental test of condition-specific competition between native plains topminnow and non-native mosquitofish
Yoichiro Kanno, Colorado State University
This study is creating, under laboratory conditions, the stream conditions (water temperature & flow speed) that promotes the health and reproduction of the plains topminnow fish, a Colorado native. It also studies the stream conditions that the mosquitofish find favorable. The mosquitofish is not native to Colorado and is a problem because it can quickly reproduce and replace the native fish in our streams. Determining what conditions promote the plains topminnow will inform stream management decisions.
Photo Credit: Konrad P. Schmidt
Documenting avian community response to wildfire in Rocky Mountain National Park using bioacoustics
Jacob Job, Colorado State University
Understanding how severe wildfires impact ecosystems and animals such as birds is critical if we are to take appropriate action to mitigate the worst impacts and promote ecosystem recovery. This study will investigate this issue by comparing pre-and post-fire audio recordings of areas of Rocky Mountain National Park impacted by the East Troublesome Fire (ETF). Information extracted from audio recordings can reveal how severe wildfires like the ETF impact bird communities. Additionally, we can use pre-and post-impact audio recordings to create immersive, engaging, and educational outreach tools to aid public understanding of the impacts of wildfire, and to rally support to promote mitigation behaviors, techniques, and policies that ameliorate factors contributing to severe wildfires.
Photo Credit: David O’Connor