Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystem2Sustainable Aquatic EcosystemIn the Colorado Springs area, you will experience many ecosystems, from grasslands to forests to tundra. Knowing how elevation determines which ecosystems occur will help you to see patterns within the tremendous variety of species assemblages. Within each zone you will find dozens if not hundreds of community types depending on slope aspect, soil type, water availability, and countless other factors. It is important to remember that these life zones are justthe most basic lenses through which to begin to understand ecosystems in the Pikes Peak Region.The Foothills Scrub zone is closest to where I live in the southwest corner of Colorado Springs. This zone, located at about 6,000 to 8,000 feet, is composed of small bushes and treessuch as scrub oak, juniper, sagebrush, and pinion pine. Raccoons, skunks, various squirrels, deer, and an occasional bear or mountain lion can be seen in this zone quite often. You will find shrubs about 4 to 8 feet tall dominating this ecosystem, which occur at lower elevations too dry for trees and with soils too gravelly or rocky for grassland. You might recognize gambel oak withits typical oak-shaped leaves with rounded lobes and the stout, gnarled trunks of older stems.
Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystem3Mountain-mahogany has thin stems that cluster together at the ground and splay out somewhat higher; its leaves have triangular bases and small pointed teeth on the ends. Compared to the Foothills Scrub habitat, variability and change are natural processes in aquatic ecosystems, and ecosystem communities and individual organisms have in many casesadapted to different environmental conditions. Beavers can alter the structure and dynamics of an aquatic system through dam building and feeding. The beaver’s ability to alter its