AUDREY SPENCER

University of Colorado Denver
​Master of Science in Environmental Science
Department of Geography and Environmental Science

ABOUT ME

I recently completed my Master of Science in Environmental Science at the University of Colorado Denver. My background consists of a unique combination of botany and geospatial analysis; I am primarily interested in geographic distributions of plants and the ecological processes that drive those patterns. For my Master's thesis, I conducted a taxonomic review of Physocarpus (Rosaceae) of the Front Range of Colorado, specifically Physocarpus monogynusP. intermedius, and P. opulifolius, and investigated the historical biogeography of this group through climatic niche modeling with Maxent. The taxonomic work will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society.

 

I have worked as a Field Botanist in Colorado for the past four years. Most recently, I worked for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the Resource Stewardship program during the 2020 season. I led vegetation surveys in state parks, including vegetation community classification and weed mapping. I also curated the State Parks NatureFinder project through iNaturalist and created a Dark Sky Monitoring citizen science project. The previous two years (2018 - 2019), I worked for the Denver Botanic Gardens. In 2018, I conducted a floristic inventory of the 66-mile Highline Canal Trail through the Greater Denver Area, and in 2019, I collected seeds from common native species for the Bureau of Land Management Seeds of Success restoration program. In 2017, I worked on the vegetation team with the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) in Boulder, conducting ecological monitoring across three major ecosystems: shortgrass prairie, montane forest, and alpine tundra.

 

As a student at UCD, I was as Graduate Teaching Assistant and Lab Instructor for two courses: Flora of Colorado and Introduction to Environmental Sciences. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from the University of Richmond in 2011. 

 

I enjoy spending time outdoors hiking, camping, and exploring Colorado 

with my husband, Ryan, and our poodle puppy, Stella.

 
 
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Modeled distribution of Physocarpus intermedius

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Modeled distribution of Physocarpus opulifolius

MASTER'S THESIS

Historical Biogeography of Front Range Physocarpus (Rosaceae)

     Abstract: Species distribution patterns today provide insight into historical drivers like climatic conditions. Glacial-interglacial fluctuations throughout the Pleistocene have resulted in multiple reorganizations of vegetation communities and complex biogeographic histories of many North American plants, including the Arcto-Tertiary relict Physocarpus. These shifts have created broad disjunctions within distributions, as well as distributional overlap among taxa with disparate biogeographic histories. An example of these phenomena can be observed in the isolated populations of eastern North American plants — the so-called eastern woodland-prairie flora — which co-occur with the Cordilleran flora of the Southern Rockies in the Front Range of Colorado.
      Here, I investigate the historical biogeography of a member of the eastern woodland-prairie element, Physocarpus opulifolius (L.) Maxim. sensu lato and its Cordilleran congener, P. monogynus (Torr.) Coult. First, I clarify the taxonomy of the P. opulifolius s.l. species complex. Second, I examine the historical distributions of P. opulifolius s.l. and P. monogynus by modeling their climatic niches during the Last Glacial Maximum (ca. 21,000 yrs ago), mid-Holocene (ca. 6,000 yrs ago), and today. Collectively, the data presented in this study suggest that modern distributions of the study taxa likely result from a complex history of multiple biogeographic events.

PORTFOLIO

Cold air pooling in Rocky Mountain National Park

Using free data and open source software, I mapped areas of cold-air pooling (CAP) within Rocky Mountain National Park. Localities showing strong CAP processes may be suitable habitat to harbor cold-adapted plant species as the regional climate continues to warm.

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Riparian Restoration Feasibility Study of Third Creek: Riparian Vegetation Brochure

This educational brochure was developed for Barr Lake State Park as part of a project for Barr Lake and Milton Reservoir Watershed Association during the Community-Based Research Practicum.

Shifts in Physocarpus monogynus distribution since the Last Glacial Maximum: A phytogeographic atlas

This phytogeographic atlas depicts the current geographic distribution of a native Colorado shrub, Physocarpus monogynus (mountain ninebark), and compares it to the historical distribution during the Last Glacial Maximum using Maxent niche modeling methodology.

Ecological Niche Modeling of North American Habitat for Juncus biglumis

This project investigated the present and future ecological niche of an arctic-alpine rush species, Juncus biglumis

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Freelance Cartography &

GIS Consulting

My most recent freelance cartography projects involve mapping global occurrences of the six Carex section Scirpinae taxa, based on georeferenced herbarium specimens. 

American pika (Ochotona princeps) habitat assessment for Boulder County, Colorado

As a temperature-sensitive species, the American pika is considered an indicator species for climate change impacts in the alpine zone.

 

SKILLS

BOTANY

Floristics

Taxonomy

Plant Identification

Herbarium Protocols

Plant & Fungal Specimen Imaging

GIS & GEOSPATIAL ANALYSIS

Cartographic Design

Geodatabase Management

Digitization

Georeferencing & Georectification
Topographic Analysis
Flow Analysis

Network Analysis

COMPUTER PROGRAMS

& LANGUAGES

ArcGIS

QGIS

Fulcrum
R

Maxent
SQL

Adobe Illustrator
InkScape
Microsoft Office Suite
Google Office Suite

 

CONTACT

©2020 BY AUDREY SPENCER

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