Earlier this year, I completed a survey of the plants and arthropods in a weed management area of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
This particular area along Henderson Canyon Road in Borrego Springs, right in the center of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, has been used as a demonstration plot for the effects of hand-weeding Brassica tournefortii (Sahara Mustard) over the past ~10 years. Every winter, a team of volunteers sweeps the area removing all of the seedling plants before they grow, flower, and reproduce. I visited 3 times over the growing season – check out the dramatic change in the landscape in these photos each 1 month apart!
Similarly to my other field survey experiment (click here) I use pitfall and pan traps to collect arthropods that walk, crawl, fly and otherwise move through the study site.
The traps are left out for 24 hours, then all the specimens captured are collected and brought back to the lab.
In the course of studying the flora and fauna of this area, I had the great pleasure of viewing flowers upon flowers, and insects galore!
The field season is long over for Anza-Borrego – it’s a very short field season! The organisms in this harsh desert come and go quickly while conditions are favorable, and wait out the long, hot summers as seeds, eggs, dormant live stages, or even migrate somewhere else. Here’s hoping for a good rain year in 2015-2016 to bring up lots of desert wildflowers next winter and spring!
*This research was supported by the Anza-Borrego Foundation Howie Wier Memorial Conservation Grant (2014).