Holder, Curtis D.

University of Colorado-Colorado Springs

I teach courses in physical geography and human-environment relationships at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and I conduct research at the nexus of hydrology, biogeography, and human-environment interactions in tropical montane cloud forests of the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala. Results from my studies have contributed to the theory of vegetation influences on watershed management by addressing the significance of fog precipitation in hydrological models. My current research focuses on three topical areas, including vegetation-atmosphere processes in tropical montane cloud forests, foliar biogeography and ecology, and human influences on forest change in Guatemala.

I am currently working on two major research projects. The first project was funded by the National Science Foundation and examines the significance of leaf water repellency, leaf optical properties, and photosynthesis of cloud forest and non-cloud forest species in order to expand existing hydrological and ecophysiological models for cloud forests. The objectives of this study are to define the spatial patterns of leaf water repellency between different habitats and to assess its importance in the overall water balance in cloud forests. With a clearer understanding of the interactive responses between leaf water repellency, gas exchange, and leaf optical properties among dominant species at a site and between sites, better models of forest hydrology processes can be formulated that incorporate leaf surface variables.

My second research emphasis examines how forest governance influences changes in land use and land cover change within thirty communally-managed forests in the Department of Chiquimula, Guatemala. The research objectives of this study are to examine changes in forest structure over a 30-year period, to examine if timber is being extracted at a sustainable rate, and to examine the relationships between forest governance and sustainable extraction of fuelwood and timber. Communal management of the majority of these forests is not established by forest committees or by regulations of the municipal government, but by customary rules in the villages that are norms that guide forest extraction. In particular, I am investigating the role that remittances from family members outside of Guatemala have on forest extraction and forest governance.

Research Interests: 
ecohydrology, Guatemala