HIGHLINE CANAL TRAIL FAQ• 71 mile manmade canal system that runs from the South Platte River southwest of Denver, CO to the agricultural regions northeast of Denver• Follows the “highline principle” of canal construction, which follows the natural contours of the land with minimal drops in elevation per mile• Construction begun in 1880 and was completed in 1883• Designed to carry three-quarters of a billion gallons of water a day• Begins at an elevation of 5542 feet and terminates at 5410 feet• Approximately 60 miles of improved recreational trails exist along the banks of the canal with unimproved natural ecosystem throughout (Highline Canal, 2012)
TRAIL ECOLOGY OBSERVED Observation Area Yellow Pinpoint Exact Observation Area Aurora, CODenver, CO
Highline Canal BiomeEast of the Continental Divide, until the Mississippi River, is classified as a mid -latitude grassland biome. These areas were once dominatedby grass lands known as prairies with broadleaf trees only occurring along river and stream banks. These Biomes are the most modified byhuman activity and are rapidly disappearing. The highline canal trail is a good representation of this biome as the open fields away from thecanal are representative of disappearing prairies and the canal(though artificial) represent the grassland riparian areas .(Christopher, 2012)
CottonwoodsFamily- Salicaceae(Willow) - Genus- PopulusDeciduous, 35 native species, In the US they are found in northern temperate climates often associated with wet soils, alternate simpleleaves, fast growing, high water demands, 70 year expected life, releases distinct cottony seeds in late spring and throughoutsummer(Little,2007)Angiosperms first appeared between the early Cretaceous and Late Jurassic and are very closely related to Gymnosperms (Monro e,Wincander, 2009)The genus serves as an important habitat for riparian ecosystems and is considered a keystone species(Botkin 2000)The Photo Above shows a habitat of both the Narrow-leaf and the Plains Cottonwood together
PLAINS COTTONWOOD The flat stem of the leaf allows the leafs toStraight columnar trunks, 60-100 feet in shake in the slightest breeze, an evolutionaryheight, wide spreading mature crowns, adaptation so the sun only hits the edge ofdrought tolerant, trunks up to 6 feet wide the leaves to reduce water transpiration (Little, 2007)
NARROW-LEAF COTTONWOOD This species has a very high demand forCan reach heights of 50 feet. Has very water and evolved narrow leaves to limithigh water demands, large crown surface area and reduce watercomposed of many stems and trunks transpiration (Little, 2007)
Black Tailed Prairie DogBlack tailed prairie dogs found about 200 yards away form the canal in a representative mid-latitude grassland.
BLACK TAILED PRAIRIE DOGS• Black tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys Ludovicianus) are social animals that live in burrowed colonies throughout the prairie lands. These animals are mammals and are a species of rodent. Tan in color with black tipped tails. They can weigh from 1.5- 3 pounds and range from 14-17 inches long.(Wikipedia, 2012)• These animals evolved from mammal like reptiles known as cynodonts during the late Triassic, and most of their evolution occurred during the Mesozoic Era. (Monroe, Wicander, 2009)• Often they can be seen perched on their hind legs outside of there burrows looking out for predators. They can usually be heard barking at one another while perched, which Is probably an evolved characteristic used to avoid predators.• Prairie dogs often live in large communities in underground burrows. Living in large communities could be an evolutionary step to help fight off predators. Also, burrowing is clearly an evolved defense mechanism to keep away from predators living in the open plains.
OTHER PRAIRIE VEGETATION Cacti Sage Brush and Russian Olive TreeTypical vegetation found away from water sources on the Colorado prairie- The Russian Olivetree is a non-native introduced species that thrives in this ecosystem, while Sage bush andvarious Cacti are native and very common on prairie lands.
Rose QuartziteRose Quartzite found lining the canal banks
ROSE QUARTZITE• NON Foliated Metamorphic Rock• Formed from igneous quartz and sedimentary sandstone under intermediate to high grade metamorphic conditions• Can be formed by contact or regional metamorphism• Probably evolved through mountain orogeny and tectonic compression• Due to strength characteristic this rock is often used in construction and is possible that it was imported and deposited when building the canal (Monroe, Wicander 2009)
SHALE• Sedimentary Rock• Composed of deposited muds and silts• Evolved through low grade compressional forces• Fissile• Found along the canal banks deposited by weak stream currents• Contains some deposited conglomerate along ridges• Appears to contain trace fossils imprinted onto surface• Could indicate that natural stream was present before construction of canal (Monroe, Wicander, 2009)
REFERENCES• Little, E. L. (2007). National Audubon Society Field Guide to Northern American Trees (22nd ed., pp. 338-367). New York, NY: Chantticleer Press, Inc.• Botkin, D. B., & Keller, E. A. (2000). Enviromental Science- Earth As A Living Planet (3rd ed., pp. 174-182). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.• Christopherson, R. W. (2012). Geosystems- An Introduction to Geography (8th ed., pp. 250-289). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.• Monroe, J. S., & Widcander, R. (2009). The Changing Earth- Exploring Geology and Evolution (5th ed., pp. 84-189). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, CengageLearning.• In Highline Canal. Retrieved July 21, 2012, from http://www.denverwater.org/recreation/highlinecanal/• In Google Earth. Retrieved July 21, 2012, from www.googleearth.com• Black-Tailed Prairie dog. (2012, June 9). In Black-Tailed Prairie dog. Retrieved July 21, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-tailed_prairie_dog