Colorado Life Zones: Seasons, Plants, & Animals
Step 1: Choose One of the Life Zones or Choices Below
CO Life Zone Menu Bar
Colorado Life Zones General information Interactive Life Zone Diagram Colorado Life Zones Maps Semidesert Shrublands Life Zone West CO Shortgrass Prairie or Plains Life Zones Foothills Woodlands and Shrublands Montane Forests Life Zone Subalpine Life Zone Alpine Life Zone Riparian Life Zones
Colorado Life Zones General Information
Step 2: Choose a Topic from the Colorado Life Zones General Information & Scroll Down
Rocky Mountains

Colorado Life Zones General Information

General Information

CO Life Zones Elevation and Climate

Elevation and Climate

CO Life Zones Seasons and Adaptations

Seasons & Adaptations

CO Life Zones Sources of Info

Sources of Information

Colorado Life Zones: Seasons & Adaptations
Seasons and Water
    Seasons are really important for the water cycle in Colorado.  In the winter lots of important snow falls in the mountainous montane, subalpine, and alpine life zones.  There it stays until the spring and the summer.  The warmer summer temperatures melt the snow.  All the water goes to the streams and rivers. Thats where the water in the Colorado River comes from! Believe it or not, you could play in large piles of snow all year in the alpine life zone. Click on Where Do Rivers Come From? for more information.
Lots of snow falls on the Rocky Mountains.
Over time it melts and creates streams & rivers.
Lots of snow falls in the Rocky Mountains The water melts and forms rivers
Seasons and Animals
    Many animals live in different life zones depending on the season of the year.  For example, mule deer and elk live in the montane forests, subalpine, and alpine life zones during the summer for food, water, and shelter.  But, when winter comes they move to the lower parts of the montane and foothills.  They do this because they can no longer find their food up higher and need to find shelter from the harsh winter weather.  Their food is covered under lots snow!
Elk in the early fall in the alpine life zone.
Elk in the winter in the montane forests life zone
Elk or Wapiti in the Alpine Elk or Wapiti in the Montane Forests
Adaptations and Plants
    In order to survive plants have adapted (changed) so that they can live in different life zones.  Decidious plants like aspens and cottonwood trees grow lots of leaves in the spring and summer, collect lots of sunlight, food and energy, then decide to lose their leaves in the fall to save energy over the cold winter. Coniferous plants like pine trees (pine cones) have adapted by growing skinny needles to collect light energy and stay on the tree all year.  Succulent plants like the prickly pear cactus have adapted to its hot environment by having a thick wax like surface on it to stop all the water from evaporating from it. Also, cactus have adapted to animals by growing sharp spine like needles to keep animals away. Still other plants like the Rocky Mountain columbine grow quickly in the short mountain summer, produce lots flowers and seeds, die off, and wait for the next summer to grow.
Decidious Trees (Decide to Lose Leaves)
Coniferous Trees (Make Pine Cones & Needles)
Decidious Aspen Trees Coniferous Pine Trees
Succulent Prickly Pear Cactus Rocky Mountain Columbine
Succulent Plants (Can survive with little water)
Flowers (Live short time and make many seeds)
Adaptations and Animals

    Animals have adapted as well to the different elevations, climates, and plants.  Some animals like the Bighorn Sheep grow thick warm fur to keep them warm in the cold high mountains.  Snowshoe hares change the color of their fur from white in winter to tan in summer. Other animals like ferrets and weasels have developed long skinny bodies to live in rocks and tunnels.  Animals like the sage grouse have adapted to eat different types of plants that live in their life zone. There are many many other adaptations besides these. 

    Some animals have adapted to many different life zones. For example, the coyote can live in the warm Great Plains to all the way up in the chilly alpine life zone.  So if you see an animal listed in one of the life zones on this website, it might live in other life zones for some or all of the year. Think of its adaptations!

Mountain Bighorn Sheep (thick warm fur)
Long-tailed Weasal (long skinny body)
Mountain Bighorn Sheep Long-tailed Weasel
Gunnison Sage-grouse Coyote
Sage Grouse (live by and eat sagebrush)
Coyote (very adaptable, in every CO life zone)