Resources > Video: Songbirds as Indicators of Healthy Riparian Ecosystems

Songbirds as Indicators of Healthy Riparian Ecosystems

Naturalist Nights 2014 | Dee Malone

Riparian ecosystems are the interface between upland and aquatic ecosystems and connect habitats from the alpine tundra to the Sonoran deserts of Colorado. Health and function of riparian ecosystems depends on both intact upland and aquatic ecosystems. Reciprocally, in the West, healthy streams rely on intact riparian ecosystems. In Colorado riparian systems have the highest species richness of all major ecosystem types but they have the smallest extent covering only one to two percent of the land area. Although riparian habitat has the potential to sustain a large diversity of wildlife this potential has been compromised by numerous anthropogenic stressors including development, deforestation, grazing, beaver eradication, dams and diversions and recreation. Activities that degrade riparian habitat can result in loss of function including maintenance of water quality and sustainable stream flows and providing wildlife with sustainable habitat. Local ecologist Dee Malone will explain how communities of bird species occupying riparian habitats are excellent indicators of riparian health and how they are essential to identifying appropriate restoration and conservation strategies as well as to evaluate management and guide future conservation.

Through Dee Malone’s work as an ecologist with Colorado ’s Natural Heritage Program she has had the opportunity to explore throughout Colorado, seeking out and documenting rare plants and natural communities – all for the purpose of conserving what is best about Colorado. More recently Dee has had the great joy of being an instructor in the Sustainability Program at Colorado Mountain College where she teaches Ecology and Sustainability and Conservation biology. According to Dee this is “surely the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had is to share my knowledge with students whose goal it is to create a more sustainable world.” Dee also has the pleasure of volunteering as vice-chair of the Roaring Fork Audubon Society as well as being a member of the Executive Committee of the Sierra Club where she also serves as Chair of the Wildlife Committee. Volunteering affords Dee the opportunity of working to protect this landscape that she so loves and calls home – Dee says “it is a privilege to live in Colorado.”

Naturalist Nights are brought to you through a partnership between Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Wilderness Workshop, and Roaring Fork Audubon.

Dee Malone

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