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Mojave Desert

Mojave Web Sites

The Mojave Desert provides critical habitat for many sensitive animal and plant speciesThe Mojave Desert provides critical habitat for many sensitive animal and plant species, but rapid human population growth has resulted in habitat loss, degradation of air quality, and depletion of water resources. Successful land management of the Mojave depends on the availability and application of scientific information regarding biological and physical resources.

Geologic and hydrologic studies underway that are contributing to fundamental understanding of desert ecosystems by establishing the role of surface materials in making moisture available for plants. Soil moisture is the most important limiter in desert ecosystems, and it is controlled by texture and structure of surficial deposits, properties that can be understood by combining of knowledge about sedimentary and soil forming processes. These mappable properties, which can be extrapolated through the desert by geologic mapping, are studied by evaluating response of typical deposits and soils to infiltration tests and by instrumenting deposits to follow natural infiltration events.

Where the water resides, how long it resides, and how much resides are the key variables that influence composition and cover of plant communities. As a result, the map distribution of deposits and soils describe a large part of the variability of the plant communities in the desert. The maps therefore become valuable as predictive tools in the desert to not only understand present vegetation conditions, but for instance can identify locations where plant communities depart from expected conditions in order to ask if past disturbances have caused these departures.

Similar approaches seem to be valid for understanding biological soil crust populations, which are important soil stabilizers and key in nutrient cycles. Biological soil crusts are dependent on deposit texture and are therefore mappable using surficial geology. The work of geologists and hydrologists, with colleagues in biology and geography in several other locations in the Western Region, are bringing new levels of understanding to the processes governing desert ecosystems.

Recoverability and Vulnerability of Desert Ecosystems (RVDE)  (New Window)

Climate History of the Mojave Desert Region, 1892 - 1996  (New Window)

Repeat Photography for Mojave Desert Ghost Towns and Mining Sites  (New Window)