Mojave Desert Network parks are faced with the increasing pressures of poor air quality, habitat fragmentation or loss, and altered disturbance regimes (e.g., fire, land development). Climate models also suggest significant changes—increasing temperatures but decreasing precipitation—for the southwestern United States. The presence and composition of vegetation depends on a multitude of abiotic and biotic factors, including climate, resource availability, and soil microbial community. This makes vegetation, and the soils associated with it, good general indicators of environmental change across parks.
We conduct Integrated Uplands monitoring on specific upland shrub communities. Shrub communities collectively represent a large proportion of each park, and they capture several focal communities of interest such as Joshua tree, creosote bush, and sagebrush.