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Priority Research Project Topics

Preference will be given to original proposals that address topics identified below. However, all proposals will be considered based on their merits.

Top Topics for 2021 (in no particular order)

  • Given the potential for changing environmental conditions, what is the risk profile for urban-wildland interface on the west edge of Boulder in the next 5 to 25 years? How would you model fuel types and growth to understand the wildland fire risk and the efficacy of potential mitigations to reduce that risk?  
  • Soundscape research and management: How can we understand, protect, and enjoy acoustic environments? Subtopics of interest include overflights management, consequences of noise to wildlife, and planning for soundscapes protection.  
  • How does OSMP contribute to public well-being and quality of life / what is the value generated? (e.g., Psychological, emotional, physical, mental, economical, physical health, etc.) 
  • How does OSMP relate/contribute to the local economy? 
  • Should OSMP invest in drones for research and monitoring? What is the feasibility/success of using drones for monitoring/research specifically relevant to OSMP (e.g., invasive species, soil disturbance, phenology) and comparisons of traditional ground-based to remote techniques? 
  • How can OSMP use crowdsourced location data to augment visitation studies? What are the barriers to using crowdsourced data are and strategies to overcome them? What strategies can be used to test accuracy?  
  • What are the effects of Esplanade (Indaziflam) on non-target organisms like soil microorganisms and native annuals? 

Additional research topics of interest, by category

Wildlife Ecology

  • Habitat use and ecology of Preble’s meadow jumping mouse on OSMP, especially as related to influences of land management (grazing, restoration, trail development, etc.). 
  • Investigate nesting success, productivity, and breeding chronology of grassland birds nesting in irrigated hayfields, including impacts of agricultural management on nesting success. 
  • Examine impact of grassland bird closures on reproductive success of grassland birds and/or relationships between grazing and nesting success. 
  • Investigate new non-insecticidal control mechanisms for sylvatic plague in prairie dogs. 
  • Investigate success and feasibility of novel approaches to prairie dog exclusion. 
  • Research related to new or emerging non-lethal tools for prairie dog population management (e.g. contraceptives) 
  • What are the comparative effects of different prairie dog relocation methods on native prairie communities? Are there practical and effective alternatives to prairie dog nesting boxes (e.g., directional boring)? 
  • What are the effects of New Zealand mud snails on lotic ecology? Are there impacts on aquatic biodiversity?  

Vegetation Management

  • What is the influence of trail building and trail use on invasive species spread? 
  • How do we best reclaim degraded lands and track success over time? 
  • What is the vulnerability of wetland/riparian communities to invasion by non-native plant species? 
  • What is the carbon footprint of mechanical vs. herbicide treatments? 
  • What are the best methods of rangeland monitoring that can guide management decisions?

Agricultural Land Restoration

  • What is the current condition of pollinator and other beneficial insect habitat on OSMP’s agricultural lands?  How do we improve conditions in areas with poor populations of pollinators and other beneficial insects? 
  • What agricultural methods (grazing, haying, irrigation) can be economically productive in the presence of prairie dogs?  

Wetland Ecology

  • How can we manage hydrologic regimes, including managed water releases, to benefit the aquatic communities? 
  • How vulnerable are OSMP-managed wetlands to climate change? 
  • What are the impacts of commercial mosquito management methods on non-target species in Boulder?  
  • What are the best approaches to understand and prevent nutrient loading, sources of pollution and harmful algal blooms? 

Recreation/Visitor Experience

  • What are visitor expectations prior to visiting OSMP (what do they expect once they get here), and how are those expectations formed? Are they met?  
  • Does education or messaging impact behavioral outcomes?  What are the OSMP visitor behavioral drivers? 
  • What are visitor perception of crowding? What is the acceptability of different management options to reduce crowding? 

Recreation Ecology

  • How do OSMP’s dog regulations impact habitat? For example, is there higher weed density/diversity on trails where dogs are allowed off-leash compared to on-leash or no-dog trails? 
  • Can we quantify changes in wildlife utilization in areas adjacent to successfully closed/restored undesignated trails? 
  • Do fenced vs. unfenced trail corridors influence grassland bird abundance and / or diversity differently? Does fencing trail corridors affect nesting success/fecundity? 
  • How do soil types on OSMP relate to trail condition/sustainability? Can an index of type vs. sustainability aid in trail planning? 
  • Conduct new research on the impacts of visitor use on resources such as plants, wildlife, soils, water quality or insects. This could include potential impacts on spatial or temporal habitat use by native wildlife, impacts of night-time human use on wildlife, impacts of dogs, or changes in wildlife community composition. 

Soil Ecology

  • How does forest management impact soil moisture and fertility? 
  • What are the best and most practical methods to enhance soil quality in tilled fields, especially wheat-fallow? 
  • How does improved soil health on OSMP lands enhance flood mitigation? 

Plant Ecology/Restoration Ecology

  • How can we use LIDAR data to understand fire behavior or forest composition? 
  • Are there genetic changes in native grass cultivars after decades, and if there are, how might those changes effect plant traits that relate to long-term restoration success? 
  • How can we use our newly digitized herbarium to study some aspect of plant geography, ecology or morphology? 
  • What is the  productivity of our long-term grassland monitoring sites? How can we measure this without direct disturbance to the plots? 
  • How can we best measure or estimate water availability in our grasslands and at what types of sites would we expect the most limitations on water availability? 

Communication / Outreach

  • How much does the public trust us in managing the land for the future? Does higher trust make people less likely to engage in public processes? 
  • What is the best way to inform/engage college students in open space engagement efforts? What is the best way to draw their interest? What way is most likely to drive them to engage?

Cultural and Scenic Resources

  • Does publicizing cultural resource presence through signage and interpretation to visitors adversely affect the resource's integrity? Is information availability correlated to integrity in other public lands contexts? Is constraining information available an effective strategy to protect cultural resources?  
  • Who were the people referenced by inscriptions at White Rocks? What are their connections to the Boulder area?