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Potential Research Questions Related to Management Issues


McInnis Canyons NCA

Potential Research Questions Related to Management Issues

Fauna and Flora
What is the full list of flora and fauna found within MCNCA?
Land Health

There are several areas within MCNCA that do not meet Land Health Standards. What are the best treatments and/or restoration practices to move these lands toward meeting Land Health Standards?

Climate Change
What are the predicted/realized effects of climate change on the resources of MCNCA? What are strategies to cope with climate change?
Vegetation and Invasive/Noxious Weeds
As restoration in dry climates can be difficult (Allen 1996), what are best management practices for restoring degraded dry lands in MCNCA and throughout the American West, and potentially globally?
How effective are biological controls at long term reduction and suppression of tamarisk?
Are native species able to increase in cover in areas where biological controls have suppressed tamarisk?
Does mechanical removal of tamarisk provide a significant increase in native species cover and survival?
Can native plant species, and under what circumstances, recover from tamarisk invasion without active restoration?
Does percent cover of other invasive or non-native species increase with tamarisk suppression?
How are ecosystem processes effected by tamarisk suppression including: food webs (for example migratory bird diversity and abundance, insect diversity and abundance, native fish abundance and reproduction), evapotranspiration and water use, and nutrient cycling?
What native species can compete with cheatgrass and under what circumstances (precipitation, time of seeding, mix of species, etc.)?
Can inter-seeding native species with cheatgrass increase diversity and cover of native plants?
Can removal of cheatgrass followed by seeding with native species increase native plant species diversity and cover?
What seeded species, and under what circumstances (precipitation, time of fire and seeding, etc.), can prevent cheatgrass domination after fire?
How are ecosystem process affected by cheatgrass invasion including; fire regimes, insect and animal diversity and abundance, soil nutrient cycling, soil crust abundance, and soil microbial communities?
What impacts do different soil amendments and different levels of soil disturbance have on cheatgrass/ native plant success?
Russian knapweed
Do management activities, for example chemical or mechanical removal, significantly decrease the cover of Russian knapweed in the presence of the biological agent?
What is the recovery, in terms of cover and diversity, of native plant species when Russian knapweed is suppressed or removed? What variables influence native plant recovery?
Does active restoration of former Russian knapweed habitat significantly increase native plant diversity or density?
Hoary cress
How well do native plant species recover after hoary cress removal?
Is active restoration of hoary cress habitat necessary to increase native plant cover and diversity?
Perennial pepper-weed
What pepperweed removal methods are most effective in terms of long term removal, cost, and time?
How well do native plant species recover after pepperweed removal?
Is active restoration of pepperweed habitat necessary to increase native plant cover and diversity?
Desert bighorn sheep
Are populations of desert bighorn sheep increasing, decreasing, or stable within MCNCA?
What are the patterns of movement and habitat use exhibited by this herd?
What are the main causes of mortality within this herd?
Is habitat within MCNCA sufficient to sustain this herd?
Gunnison sage grouse
Are Gunnison sage grouse present (and what numbers of sage grouse are present) within MCNCA?
Have habitat treatments aimed at improving sage grouse habitat improved habitat by increasing native plant species diversity and abundance, and are Gunnison sage grouse utilizing these areas in increased numbers?
What sage grouse life history stages are supported by habitat within MCNCA (for example breeding, nesting, brood rearing)?
Kit fox
Are kit foxes still present within MCNCA?
What are the main causes for mortality of kit foxes in MCNCA and western Colorado?
What are the reproductive success rates for kit foxes within MCNCA and western Colorado?
Is habitat sufficient to sustain kit fox populations within MCNCA and western Colorado?
Where are bat hibernacula in and around MCNCA?
What are appropriate monitoring protocols for early detection of white-nosed syndrome?
What are other stressors and trends in these bat populations?
Audubon IBA
Is the diversity of birds stable in this area?
What migrant species are present?
What year round residents are present?
What species use the area for breeding and brood rearing?
Can MNCA birds serve as an indicator of the general health of MCNCA habitats (Carignan and Villard 2002)?
How important are wild pollinators to agriculture in MCNCAN, especially considering the close proximity of agriculture to this protected area?
Are populations of pollinators increasing or decreasing in MCNCA?

What factors are contributing to pollinator population fluctuations in MCNCA, for example parasites, disease, pesticide use, etc.?

What common plants are 'pollinator friendly' and are they included in common seed mixes?


Burrowing owl
How many burrowing owls are present within MCNCA and where are they present?
What are nestling survival rates? What factors limit nestling survival?
Due to the use of active prairie dog burrows for breeding, burrowing owl populations decline with declining prairie dog populations (Desmond, Savidge et al. 2000). How able are burrowing owls to locate active prairie dog towns? How burrowing owl populations react to fluctuating prairie dog populations?
Canyon tree frogs
What is the density of canyon tree frogs within MCNCA and where are they present?
What is the life history/population dynamics of canyon tree frogs? E.g. What are the reproductive and death rates, and what limits these rates?
What are habitat requirements for canyon tree frogs?
Long  nosed leopard lizard
What is the density of long nosed leopard lizards within MCNCA?
What is the life history/population dynamics of long nosed leopard lizards? E.g. What are the reproductive and death rates, and what limits these rates?
What are habitat requirements for long nosed leopard lizards?
White tailed        prairie dog
Where within MCNCA where are active and in-active prairie dog towns found?
Are towns being impacted by plague?
What are the death and re-colonization rates of prairie dog towns in MCNCA and what drives these rates?
What other factors drive prairie dog population fluctuations in this area?
What are the dynamics of plague and the population fluctuations of prairie dogs in the presence of plague?
Socio-Cultural Heritage
Socio-cultural, general
What is the full list of MCNCA socio-cultural heritage sites? Where are important areas for archeological excavation?
What can MCNCA’s socio-cultural heritage sites tell us about past climatic and cultural changes, and movement of historical peoples? This type of information can be invaluable as we are facing potentially rapid climate changes.
What are the locations of past Ute trails?
What is ethno-history of the MCNCA area including but not limited to Native Americans and early settlers/homesteaders?
What can pack rat middens in MCNCA tell us about historical vegetation and ecosystem conditions (Cole 1986)?
Paleontology, general
What is the full list of fossil fauna and flora found within MCNCA?
What can fossil biota tell us about paleo-environments at MCNCA? Can information about these paleo-environments and their changes help predict effects of local and global climate change and thus inform modern management of BLM lands?
What are potential gains, and how can these gains be quantified, from further prospecting and excavation at certain areas including: Mygatt-Moore quarry, Fruita Paleontological Area, and cliffs and fall blocks in canyon areas?
How can paleontology research efforts over potentially large geographic areas be prioritized to concentrate limited resources in areas most likely to produce scientifically significant results?
Recreation, general
How are the targeted beneficial outcomes for users, households/communities, the economy, and the environment, which are identified in the MCNCA plan, realized and how do we measure our success in meeting these outcomes?
What are the negative outcomes of recreational use of MCNCA and how can we analyze, both qualitatively and quantitatively, these outcomes to be avoided?
How do we engage essential services providers and other non-participants in a way that informs management of desired outcomes of affected communities? Key service providers and non-participants have been identified.
What relationships underpin recreation ‘niche bundles’?