Kaibab Plateau

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View of the Vermillion Cliffs from the Kaibab Plateau Kaibab Plateau 100 2838 0225 edited-1.jpg
View of the Vermillion Cliffs from the Kaibab Plateau

The Kaibab Plateau is located in northern Arizona in the United States. The plateau, part of the larger Colorado Plateau, is bordered on the south by the Grand Canyon and reaches an elevation of 9200 feet (2817 m) above sea level. The plateau is divided between Kaibab National Forest and the "North Rim" portion of Grand Canyon National Park. Tributary canyons of the Colorado River form the plateau's eastern and western boundaries, and tiers of uplifted cliffs define the northern edges of the land form. Winter snowfall is often heavy (sometimes exceeding 200 in (5,100 mm)), and this creates opportunities for backcountry Nordic skiing and snow camping. [1]

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Colorado Plateau plateau in the southwestern United States

The Colorado Plateau, also known as the Colorado Plateau Province, is a physiographic and desert region of the Intermontane Plateaus, roughly centered on the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States. This province covers an area of 336, 700 km2 (130,000 mi2) within western Colorado, northwestern New Mexico, southern and eastern Utah, and northern Arizona. About 90% of the area is drained by the Colorado River and its main tributaries: the Green, San Juan, and Little Colorado. Most of the remainder of the plateau is drained by the Rio Grande and its tributaries.

Contents

This broad feature is heavily forested with aspen, spruce-fir, ponderosa pine, and pinyon-juniper woodland, and stands in sharp contrast to the arid lowlands encircling it. The cool forests of the plateau are home to the Kaibab squirrel, which is endemic to the region. Other fauna includes deer, turkey, cougar, and bobcat. The Kaibab deer are particularly important because of the changes in their population during the early 1900s. This particular fluctuation is a great example of population engineering and the effects humans can have on nature.

Aspen common name for certain tree species

Aspen is a common name for certain tree species; some, but not all, are classified by botanists in the section Populus, of the Populus genus.

Spruce genus of plants

A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea, a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal (taiga) regions of the Earth. Spruces are large trees, from about 20–60 m tall when mature, and have whorled branches and conical form. They can be distinguished from other members of the pine family by their needles (leaves), which are four-sided and attached singly to small persistent peg-like structures on the branches, and by their cones, which hang downwards after they are pollinated. The needles are shed when 4–10 years old, leaving the branches rough with the retained pegs. In other similar genera, the branches are fairly smooth.

Fir genus of plants

Firs (Abies) are a genus of 48–56 species of evergreen coniferous trees in the family Pinaceae. They are found through much of North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, occurring in mountains over most of the range. Firs are most closely related to the genus Cedrus (cedar). Douglas firs are not true firs, being of the genus Pseudotsuga.

Physiography

Kaibab Plateau from space Kaibab Plateau 2006-04-30 MODIS 250m.jpg
Kaibab Plateau from space

The Kaibab Plateau consists of approximately 1,152 square miles which are above 6,000 feet. The highest point has an elevation of 9,200 feet. The plateau is bounded on the south by the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, the elevation in this southern area of the plateau varies from 8,800 feet to slightly less than 6,000 feet.

The most extensive platform of the plateau is the Esplanade, which is called "Sand Rocks" by local cowboys. This area was formed as a result from weathering of the Hermit shale, which left a hard layer of Permian sandstone exposed. This red sandstone is one of the outstanding features of the plateau.

The plateau's western boundary is the Kanab Creek Canyon which high perpendicular walls form a natural barrier to the movement of most animals. The northwestern boundary of the plateau is marked by a fault line north of the Snake Gulch which is approximately sixteen miles to the east of the Kanab Creek. The eastern boundary is marked by the so-called Houserock Valley, which is a marble platform caused by a monoclinical fold, which strata dips down 2,000 to 3,000 feet. [2]

Climate

The climate of the Kaibab Plateau consists of rain and thunderstorms in late summer, snow, heavy at times, in winter, and drier weather in early summer. There was an average annual precipitation of 26.57 inches for the period 1925 to 1936. During winter, snow is heavy and often accumulates at a depth of eight to ten feet. June is the driest month of the year, followed by May and early July.

Storms occur several times each week until early September. The highest portions of the plateau are usually touched by snow, and snowstorms usually occur in May and September. [3]

Kaibab deer

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Kaibab Plateau was witness to an interesting experiment in what some might call population engineering. The plateau's pre-1905 population of mule deer was estimated to be around 4,000. This number was never confirmed by any kind of count or survey, and has become an accepted number mainly because no other estimate is available. The average carrying capacity of the land was unknown, in part because this concept was not widely used by naturalists at the time. Years later, Aldo Leopold famously estimated that the capacity had been about 30,000 deer.

Mule deer species of deer

The mule deer is a deer indigenous to western North America; it is named for its ears, which are large like those of the mule. The several subspecies include the black-tailed deer.

Carrying capacity The maximum population size of the species that the environment can sustain indefinitely

The carrying capacity of a biological species in an environment is the maximum population size of the species that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water, and other necessities available in the environment. In population biology, carrying capacity is defined as the environment's maximal load, which is different from the concept of population equilibrium. Its effect on population dynamics may be approximated in a logistic model, although this simplification ignores the possibility of overshoot which real systems may exhibit.

Aldo Leopold American writer and scientist

Aldo Leopold was an American author, philosopher, scientist, ecologist, forester, conservationist, and environmentalist. He was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and is best known for his book A Sand County Almanac (1949), which has sold more than two million copies.

Kaibab deer from the DOCUMERICA series, a program sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency to photograph subjects of American environmental concern during the 1970s DEER IN KAIBAB NATIONAL FOREST, NEAR THE NORTH RIM OF GRAND CANYON - NARA - 544114.tif
Kaibab deer from the DOCUMERICA series, a program sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency to photograph subjects of American environmental concern during the 1970s

The idea in 1906 was simply to protect and expand the herd, so on November 28, President Theodore Roosevelt created the Grand Canyon National Game Preserve. Overgrazing by herds of sheep, cattle, and horses had taken place on the plateau since the 1880s. During that time, many predators were also killed by ranchers and bounty hunters. By the time Roosevelt established the game preserve, ranchers had moved most domestic livestock elsewhere. The primary change brought by the creation of the game preserve was to ban deer hunting. Government efforts, led by the United States Forest Service, began to protect the deer's numbers by killing off their natural predators once again; to this end, between 1907 and 1939, 816 mountain lions, 20 wolves, 7388 coyotes and over 500 bobcats were reportedly killed. [4]

Theodore Roosevelt 26th president of the United States

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was an American statesman, politician, conservationist, naturalist, and writer who served as the 26th president of the United States from 1901 to 1909. He previously served as the 25th vice president of the United States from March to September 1901 and as the 33rd governor of New York from 1899 to 1900. As a leader of the Republican Party during this time, he became a driving force for the Progressive Era in the United States in the early 20th century. His face is depicted on Mount Rushmore, alongside those of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. In polls of historians and political scientists, Roosevelt is generally ranked as one of the five best presidents.

United States Forest Service federal forest and grassland administrators

The United States Forest Service (USFS) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that administers the nation's 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands, which encompass 193 million acres (780,000 km2). Major divisions of the agency include the National Forest System, State and Private Forestry, Business Operations, and the Research and Development branch. Managing approximately 25% of federal lands, it is the only major national land agency that is outside the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Cougar Large cat of the family Felidae native to the Americas

The cougar, also commonly known by other names including catamount, mountain lion, panther, and puma, is a large felid of the subfamily Felinae native to the Americas. Its range, from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes of South America, is the widest of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere. An adaptable, generalist species, the cougar is found in most American habitat types. It is the biggest cat in North America, and the second-heaviest cat in the New World after the jaguar. Secretive and largely solitary by nature, the cougar is properly considered both nocturnal and crepuscular, although daytime sightings do occur. The cougar is more closely related to smaller felines, including the domestic cat, than to any species of subfamily Pantherinae, of which only the jaguar is native to the Americas.

The deer population experienced a great increase in numbers during the early decades of the 20th century. One estimate put the population as high as 100,000 deer inhabiting the range in 1924. Again, there was no systematic survey to support this estimate, which may have been exaggerated to twice the actual number. Shortly after that time, however, the deer population did begin to decline from over-browsing. By the mid-1920s, many deer were starving to death.

After a heated legal dispute between the federal government and the state of Arizona, hunting was once more permitted, to reduce the deer's numbers. Hunters were able to kill only a small fraction of the starving deer. The range itself was damaged, and its carrying capacity was greatly reduced. Once ecologists began to study the area and reflect on the changes that had occurred there, they began to use the Kaibab deer as a simple lesson about how the removal of the deer's natural predators, which had been done in the interest of preserving the deer population, had allowed the deer to over-reproduce, and quickly overwhelm the plateau's resources. Some ecologists suggested that the situation highlighted the importance of keeping a population in balance with its environment's carrying capacity.

Significance

X Fire Tree Planting Restoration Project, Kaibab National Forest Hoedad2-Kaibab-Nat-Forest.jpg
X Fire Tree Planting Restoration Project, Kaibab National Forest

The more meaningful lesson of the Kaibab suggests that human efforts to protect wildlife and preserve wild areas must be balanced with ecological complexity and social priorities that are difficult to predict. Changes take place, sometimes rapidly, but their effects linger for decades. Today, the Arizona Game Commission manages the area, controlling the numbers of deer as well as predators, and issues hunting permits to keep the deer in balance with the range.

Kaibab Lake Campground in the Williams Ranger District, Kaibab National Forest Kaibab Lake Campground.jpg
Kaibab Lake Campground in the Williams Ranger District, Kaibab National Forest

Although the story of the Kaibab deer rose to fame in the 1920s due to their sudden increase and decrease in population, the story can also be used to demonstrate the way in which scientific studies and ideas about history can help educate current students. The first interpretation of the deer story as demonstrated in textbooks was that predator control had destroyed the deer’s population growth. It was thought that initially the high number of deer predators were obtruding the growth of the deer’s population, therefore rules were put in place in order to minimize the predator population and allow the deer to increase their population size. However, as scientific studies continued, ecologist Greame Caughley suggested that predator control alone could not have caused the Kaibab irruption, but rather factors like climate, grazing by other animals, and preservation policies actually had more significant impacts on the deer [5]

Caughley’s opinion led to confusion by teachers and scientists over what to include and teach in ecology and biology classes, therefore this story stopped being used as an example of prey and predator population dynamics. This is important to the development of scientific studies because it shows that events—-like the Kaibab deer controversy—-do not have a definitive start and beginning but include other opinions and approaches which teachers use to showcase the richness of controversy.

The Kaibab deer controversy has revolutionized the way science is taught in textbooks, and the way students question ecology and biology. In addition, students now learn that human intervention can lead to big repercussions regarding specific animal’s population and development in certain regions.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Kaibab National Forest

At 1.6 million acres the Kaibab National Forest borders both the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon, in north-central Arizona. It is divided into three major sections: the North Kaibab Ranger District and the South Kaibab and are managed by the United States Forest Service. The South Kaibab is further divided into two districts, the Tusayan Ranger District, and the Williams Ranger District. The Grand Canyon is a natural boundary between the North Kaibab and the South Kaibab. The South Kaibab covers 1,422 square miles (3,680 km2) and the North Kaibab stretches over 1,010 square miles (2,600 km2). Elevations vary on the forest from 5,500 feet in the southwest corner to 10,418 feet at the summit of Kendrick Peak on the Williams Ranger District. The forest as a whole is headquartered in Williams.

Arizona Strip part of Arizona north of the Colorado River, having more physical/cultural connections with southern Utah and Nevada than the rest of Arizona due to the difficulty of crossing the Grand Canyon, whose largest settlements are Colorado City and Fredonia

The Arizona Strip is the part of Arizona lying north of the Colorado River. The difficulty of crossing the Grand Canyon causes this region to have more physical and cultural connections with southern Utah and Nevada than with the rest of Arizona. The largest settlements in the Strip are Colorado City and Fredonia.

Kaibab Limestone

The Kaibab Limestone is a resistant cliff-forming, Permian geologic formation that crops out across the U.S. states of northern Arizona, southern Utah, east central Nevada and southeast California. It is also known as the Kaibab Formation in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. The Kaibab Limestone forms the rim of the Grand Canyon. In the Big Maria Mountains, California, the Kaibab Limestone is highly metamorphosed and known as the Kaibab Marble.

Mount Trumbull Wilderness

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Jacob Lake, Arizona human settlement in Arizona, United States of America

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Kanab Creek Wilderness

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Kanab Plateau

The Kanab Plateau is a 45-mile long plateau located at the north of the Grand Canyon. The plateau is adjacent west of the Kaibab Plateau of the North Rim, with a basin containing the Kanab Creek watershed in between. The basin is the site of the Kanab Creek Wilderness, with Snake Gulch at its north perimeter, and at the base of the Kanab Plateau, forming its southeast border.

Course of the Colorado River

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Toroweap Formation

The Middle Permian Toroweap Formation is a thin, darker geologic unit, between the brighter colored units of the Kaibab Limestone above, and Coconino Sandstone below. It is a prominent unit in Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA, found through sections of the South Rim, Grand Canyon, and the North Rim, of the Kaibab Plateau; also the Kaibab's southeast extension to Cape Royal, the Walhalla Plateau. The Colorado River of the Grand Canyon makes its excursion from due-south to due-west around the Walhalla Plateau, as it enters the east end of the Grand Canyon's interior, Granite Gorge. The formation is also found in southeast Utah.

Peacock Mountains

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Marble Canyon Dam proposed dam on the Colorado River in Arizona.

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References

  1. Land Use History of the Colorado Plateau Archived 2005-12-19 at the Wayback Machine .
  2. Rasmussen, Irwin. "Biotic Communities of Kaibab Plateau, Arizona". JSTOR   1943204.Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. Rasmussen, Irwin. "Biotic Communities of Kaibab Plateau, Arizona". JSTOR   1943204.Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. Young, Chris. "A history of the Kaibab deer".
  5. Young, Chris, A Textbook History: Use of the Kaibab Lesson in Teaching Biology

Coordinates: 36°7′36″N112°0′32″W / 36.12667°N 112.00889°W / 36.12667; -112.00889