Floristic Patterns and Conservation Values of Mojave and Sonoran Desert Springs in California
Authored by Roux’s Andy Zdon, P.G., CEG, CHG, Naomi S. Fraga (California Botanic Garden), Brian S. Cohen & Sophie S. Parker (The Nature Conservancy), and Maura Palacios Mejia (Mount San Antonio College)
In the face of a rapidly changing climate, spring-fed habitats are increasingly vulnerable to numerous threats. Botanical inventories provide valuable information to assess the conservation value of desert springs, and can serve as indicators to document changing conditions, including the proportion of native vs. nonnative taxa, diversity of life forms present that influence structure and function of ecosystems, species persistence and longevity, and the proportion of taxa that are rare and sensitive to land use change.
In this article, the authors evaluate plant species composition and richness within and between springs, and evaluate botanical diversity with respect to physical parameters including hydrology and geography. They find that desert springs collectively support a large proportion of plant diversity, or nearly 22% of the total vascular plant diversity known within the California desert in only 0.000005% of the total land area. The springs sampled are highly dissimilar in plant species composition; thus, restoration and management activities likely need to be highly individualized and site-specific. Monitoring and inventory programs can increase opportunities for restoration and protection by providing information to assess warning signs of habitat degradation, such as changing species composition and local extirpation of wetland-dependent species.
This research article is published by the Natural Areas Association in Natural Areas Journal. To request a complimentary copy, please fill out the form below: