Wyoming Landscapes & Life Zones!

 

I was driving across grassland when I was joined by a group of Horned Larks. They had come alongside traveling like a pod of dolphins, undulating and surfing the breeze ... if I matched their speed, they would follow along for quite sometime, rising and falling and chattering tweets ... A fracture appeared in the distance ahead of me where I saw the stretched-out-color-of-straw turn to an old-wooden-gray ... This place, an ecotone, is a vague width of land where communities struggle with property lines. Here it is between grassland and shrubland, but such tensions exist wherever differences touch. If the critical parameters and values were known... click here for the full excerpt

I was driving across grassland when I was joined by a group of Horned Larks. They had come alongside traveling like a pod of dolphins, undulating and surfing the breeze. If I went too slow, they would fly on past and settle on the road ahead, only to take flight again as I got closer; and, soon tiring of this they would be gone. By going too fast, they would trail behind and eventually veer off to some other place. But if I matched their speed, they would follow along for quite sometime, rising and falling and chattering tweets.

A fracture appeared in the distance ahead of me where I saw the stretched-out-color-of-straw turn to an old-wooden-gray. It was the transition line of an ecotone, a shoreline marking the sea's end of the grass with the land's start of the shrub. Curiously, as I got closer to that widening beach, it became fuzzy and less distinct; like viewing the line of a sharp pencil under a microscope, its keen edge disappears and is replaced with fibers of paper and mosaic piles of graphite. And with the grassland now gone, the larks had swung 'round and headed back across the expanse.

This place, an ecotone, is a vague width of land where communities struggle with property lines. Here it is between grassland and shrubland, but such tensions exist wherever differences touch. If the critical parameters and values were known (soil depth and porosity, nutrient availability, the seasonal amounts and variation of precipitation, the frequency and intensity of disturbances like grazing, fire and drought) then you might be able to balance a formula and determine which way the equilibrium was shifting. But the way it works now, you have to come back tomorrow to find out which way the line is moving today. It is a process, an accumulation of effects, like a shifting, sand drawn line where neighborhood boys earnestly fight over vacant lot boundaries.

×

 

Prairie Landscapes

Wyoming's Prairie Life Zone

Click on this Wyoming Prairie link or the image to the right to jump to a photo gallery displaying landscape photographs of Wyoming's Prairie life zone.

 

 

 

 


Desert Landscapes

Wyoming's Desert Life Zone

Click on this Wyoming Desert link or the image to the right to jump to a photo gallery displaying landscape photographs of Wyoming's Desert life zone.

 

 

 

 


Foothills Landscapes

Wyoming's Foothill Life Zone

Click on this Wyoming Foothills link or the image to the right to jump to a photo gallery displaying landscape photographs of Wyoming's Foothills life zone.

 

 

 

 


Mountain Landscapes

Wyoming's Mountain Life Zone

Click on this Wyoming Mountain link or the image to the right to jump to a photo gallery displaying landscape photographs of Wyoming's Mountain life zone.

 

 

 

 


Alpine Landscapes

Wyoming's Alpine Life Zone

Click on this Wyoming Alpine link or the image to the right to jump to a photo gallery displaying landscape photographs of Wyoming's Alpine life zone.