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Ecosystem Science and Management

Agriculture Building 2013

Department #3354

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-2263

Email: esm@uwyo.edu

Ecosystem Science and Management
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Alexandre Latchininsky

Ecosystem Science and Management

Research Project: Great Sand Dunes Insect Monitoring

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in southern Colorado provides a unique environment for a diverse assortment of animals such as black bear, deer, antelope, bison, and many more. It is also home to insects found nowhere else on earth. The tallest dunes in North America, rising 750 feet above the valley floor, the Great Sand Dunes are a natural oddity created by a coalescence of unique geological and hydrological forces. These forces have produced an environment like no other in the surrounding region a miniature "Sahara" desert at the foot of an alpine wilderness. No wonder some inhabitants of this one-of-a-kind ecosystem are also quite unique. Among the more than 1,000 known local arthropod species, there are at least seven insects that find this mobile sandy environment exclusively home. We collaborated with the park's biologist, Phyllis Bovin, to start developing monitoring protocols for these endemic insects. The best known of the endemics is the Great Sand Dunes tiger beetle, Cicindela theatina (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae). This beetle, like many other species in its family, is colorful and distinctively patterned. Our research addressed such questions as when and where to look for the endemic insects. The findings have led to methods on how to estimate their abundance and gain insights in their biology, ecology, and behavior. Using these remarkable creatures, the Vital Signs Monitoring program will monitor the health of the unique Great Sand Dunes ecosystem in our ever-changing climate.

To learn more about the project, check out the article in 2008 Reflections magazine.

Investigators:
Alexandre V. Latchininsky, Principal Investigator
Travis Gilchriest,  MS Candidate in Entomology in 2008. Currently Travis serves as Medical Entomologist in US Army.

Funding:
National Park Service, RM-CESU ($5,000)


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Ecosystem Science and Management

Agriculture Building 2013

Department #3354

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-2263

Email: esm@uwyo.edu

Ecosystem Science and Management
Find us on Facebook (Link opens a new window)

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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