Invasive Species - Cheatgrass
Bromus tectorum also known as cheatgrass is a very aggressive species that made its way from Europe to the Rockies through accidental introduction. It is specialized to drop seeds and germinate before native seeds can fall. The grass drops its seeds as early as June, during the peak heat of summer. This becomes dry fuel for forest fires and can cause the destruction of entire ecosystems.
Endangered Species - Whooping Crane
The whooping crane population has been victim to vast amounts of habitat destruction and hunting beginning in the 1800s. There population swiftly dropped from 20,000 to 1,500 by 1860 and plummeting to an all time low of 14 in 1941. Humans nurtured the survivors of the species and eventually sent them back into nature using an ultralight aircraft to teach young chicks how to flock without the aid of adult birds.
The winter coat of the bighorn sheep is thick, double-layered and light. This helps them survive the harsh temperatures at high altitudes. They also have specialized hooves and rough soles that provide a natural grip that helps them traverse the rocky terrain.
They hunt in packs to take down the large animals that inhabit the Rocky Mountain area. Their thick coats of fur allow them to survive the harsh winter temperatures. Coyotes also inhabit dens that allow them to avoid other harsh conditions.
The boreal toad survives winter by entering well-insulated areas and hibernating. They inhabit areas between 8,000 and 11,500 ft and breed in very large numbers (r-selected species) to survive the harsh environment of the Rocky Mountains.
The seeds of the quaking aspen can rarely drop and survive in the short and hot dry season of the Rocky Mountains. To battle this the quaking aspen forms vertical roots known as suckers that can sometimes form into trees. This method of reproduction results in interconnected populations that can span thousands of years.
Named after its appearance, the Fairy Slipper rarely blooms. The only time it blooms is in late spring because it cannot survive very long in the harsh conditions of the Rocky Mountains.
The seeds of the boulder raspberry are coarse and seedy so that they can survive long enough to bloom. The berries produced in spring attract a variety of animals that help spread the seeds of the next generation.