The Southern Rockies Ecoregion is a high-elevation mountainous ecoregion that covers approximately 138,854 km2 (53,612 mi2), including much of central Colorado and parts of southern Wyoming and northern New Mexico (fig. 1) (Omernik, 1987; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1997). It abuts six other ecoregions: the Wyoming Basin and Colorado Plateaus Ecoregions on the north and west, the Arizona/New Mexico Plateau Ecoregion on the south, and the Northwestern Great Plains, Western High Plains, and Southwestern Tablelands Ecoregions on the east (fig. 1). The ecoregion receives most of its annual precipitation (25–100 cm) as snowfall, which provides a significant amount of high-elevation snowpack that is an important water source for surrounding ecoregions. The Southern Rockies Ecoregion has a steep elevation gradient from low foothills to high peaks, with several hundred summits higher than 3,660 m (12,000 ft). As a southern extension of the larger RockyMountain system, it is composed primarily of seven main north-south trending mountain ranges that are separated by four large intermontane basins. A fifth basin, the San Luis Valley, is outside the ecoregion, forming a northern finger of the Arizona/New Mexico Plateau Ecoregion that lies mostly to the south. To the east, late Tertiary sand and gravel deposits that were eroded from the relatively young Rocky Mountains were carried eastward by streams, forming the nearby Western High Plains Ecoregion and its underlying Ogallala aquifer.
|Title||Southern Rockies Ecoregion: Chapter 8 in Status and trends of land change in the Western United States--1973 to 2000|
|Authors||Mark A. Drummond|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Professional Paper|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Western Geographic Science Center|