Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Tim Seastedt

Abstract

The Boulder Front Range offers some of the finest rock climbing in North America. As a result many rock climbers find their way into the remote cliff regions of the Front Range (Climbing Management Guide). These areas often serve as refugia for a variety of plant and animal species that are not found in more disturbed areas (McMillan & Larson 2002). The aim of this study is to quantify the impacts on vegetative cover, species richness, frequency and introduction of invasive plant species in the talus below climbing routes in the Boulder Front Range due to trampling caused by recreational climbers. This data will provide a baseline for further monitoring of the impacts to these unique areas. The results of which can contribute to more accurate park management and closure plan for cliffs with climbing present. Data containing an aggregate distribution of climbing frequency was used to ascertain the prevalence of climbers visiting cliffs throughout the Boulder Front Range and to assess which locations to sample. It was found that cover, richness and frequency decreased significantly in experimental plots, indicating negative impacts from the disturbances caused by rock climbers in the area. It is noteworthy that three invasive species were identified, however, the relation to recreational climbers was not attainable.

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