Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Ben Livneh

Second Advisor

Peter Blanken

Third Advisor

Dale Miller


The difference between regional reservoir groups can be evaluated to help determine useful management strategies for optimizing both the primary uses and ecosystems of the reservoirs. My thesis is an analysis of selected reservoirs in two regional groups of Colorado, the plains and mountain regions. Ten reservoirs are included in this study, with five in the plains region and five in the mountain region of the state. I selected the reservoirs based on the availability of required data sets and their relative geographic location within the state. The analysis was done based on data surrounding the reservoirs’ primary uses, abundance of fish species, and hydrology. The primary use analysis concluded that the plains reservoir group is 80% irrigation, while the mountain reservoir group is 60% municipal water supply storage. The fish species analysis concluded that the plains reservoir group’s most common abundant fish species are walleye and gizzard shad, while the mountain reservoir group’s most common abundant fish species are rainbow trout, suckers, and brown trout. The hydrologic analysis was a Oneway ANOVA and t-Test evaluation of the reservoirs’ ratio of mean annual releases to mean annual storage volume, concluding a statistically significant difference between plains and mountain regional reservoir groups with a p-value of .04. The overall analysis concludes there is a significant difference in the primary uses, fish species, and hydrology of this selection of plains and mountain reservoirs in Colorado. I recommend my research methods be applied to a larger reservoir comparison at statewide, regional, or even global levels to form a better understanding of regional reservoirs as systems.