Desert Springs Monitoring

A small desert spring in Mojave Preserve at the base of a hillside
Budweiser Spring at Mojave National Preserve.

NPS Photo

Overview

Surface-water resources are sparsely distributed on the desert landscape but are critical for the persistence of native flora and fauna—including many endemic species—in the Mojave and Great Basin deserts. Springs are the most numerous surface-water habitats in the Mojave Desert Network parks.

Network staff monitor about 240 springs in the network parks by visiting a statistically-selected sample of springs (approximately 120) each year. During these site visits we measure water quality, water quantity, riparian vegetation, and site disturbance. Sensors are also deployed in a small number of springs to monitor the timing of wet and dry periods.

Monitoring Objectives

  • What are the status and trends of water availability at a subsample of springs in each of the five monitored parks?
  • What are the status and trends of water quality at a subsample of springs in each of the five monitored parks?
Comparison of water presence at Sparrow Spring, Joshua Tree, in 2006 and 2017
Image of spring with surface water present. Image of spring with no surface water present.
Sparrow Spring, Joshua Tree, January 2006. This photo was taken during the initial desert springs inventory on January 15th, 2006. Surface water was present at the spring during the visit. NPS Photo
Sparrow Spring, Joshua Tree, February 2017. This photo was taken during the recent Joshua Tree desert springs monitoring field season on February 8th, 2017. No surface water was present during the visit. NPS Photo



Last updated: August 28, 2018