Do you enjoy exploring the great outdoors? Hiking and camping are great ways to connect with nature. Lately, another outdoor activity, rock climbing, has become very popular. As a result, the number of people using cliffs has increased rapidly. Cliff ecosystems are home to many living things, including birds. Since climbing is a fairly new activity, we don’t know its impact on cliff ecosystems. Here, we studied how climbers affect birds that nest on cliffs in The Flatirons area in Colorado. We selected cliffs that face different directions (north, south, east, and west). Half of the cliffs are visited by lots of climbers and half by very few or no climbers. We compared the number and species of birds on these different cliffs. We found that east-facing cliffs have the greatest number and diversity of birds. Our results show that north-facing cliffs are the best option for new climbing routes when it comes to protecting wildlife. Our solution may help the area to handle the growing number of climbers while protecting cliff ecosystems.

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About this article

Summary of research
Scientists wanted to know how climbers affect birds that nest on cliffs.
Reading level
Scientific field
Key words
NGSS standards
AP Environmental science topics
IB Biology topics
Scientific methods
Type of figure
Location of research
Scientist Affiliation
Publication date
July 2019

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