• Red Rocks with water in front of them in the desert.
  • Clouds behind Joshua Tree and bushes.
  • Desert flowers blooming in bushes in front of mountains in the desert.
  • Setting sun reflecting of clouds of orange and blue behind a joshua tree.
  • Hoover Dam intake towers with water behind the dam showing that it is not full.

2013 SCIENCE PROJECTS

Reducing Uncertainty Regarding Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity in the California Desert

Science Need(s)

Critical Management Question 2: Monitoring Species/Processes and Related Threats/Stressors
What species and ecological processes are sensitive to climate change and/or other large scale stressors (e.g., water management, invasive species, altered fire regime, wind erosion) and can be effectively monitored to indicate the overall effects of these stressors on ecosystems, habitats, and species, thus helping managers detect, understand, and respond to these changes? What are the best monitoring designs and protocols to detect changes to these processes and species at temporal and geographic scales suitable for providing adequate and reliable metrics?

Critical Management Question 6: Amphibians/Reptiles Vulnerability
What are the species of amphibians and reptiles that are currently considered not vulnerable but are likely to experience negative changes in their population sizes and/or extents of distribution due to future changes in climate, fire regime and water availability in the Southwestern deserts?

Grantee: University of California Riverside’s Center for Conservation Biology
Principle Investigators: Cameron W. Barrows, UC Riverside, Michael Vamstad and Josh Hoines, Joshua Tree National Park
Cooperative Agreement:  $165,000 in matching funds and $46,035 in Federal funds provided by US Fish and Wildlife Service
Project Duration: 2013-2015
Project Goal(s)
The overarching goal of this project is to create a sustainable resource monitoring framework that will provide empirical data identifying if and how climate change is changing the composition and vitality of Joshua Tree National Park. These data will then help focus the Park’s resource management programs to help ensure the Park’s rich biodiversity can be sustained to the extent possible. A broader goal is to have this framework adopted across the surrounding public lands to then integrate data from multiple sites and land management philosophies to create an unambiguous picture of the impacts of climate change across the desert region.

Brief Project Description

University of California Riverside’s Center for Conservation Biology will create a sustainable resource monitoring framework that will provide empirical data identifying if and how climate change is changing the composition and vitality of Joshua Tree National Park. These data will then help focus the Park’s resource management programs to help ensure the Park’s rich biodiversity can be sustained to the extent possible. A broader goal is to have this framework adopted across the surrounding public lands to then integrate data from multiple sites and land management philosophies to create an unambiguous picture of the impacts of climate change across the desert region.

Project Location

Joshua Tree National Park

Project Tasks

  • Identify gaps in focal species coverages and add additional monitoring stations to ensure the focal species are being adequately tracked in the final framework.
  • Define monitoring methods/protocols to be employed at the monitoring stations.
  • Field test the species/natural community protocols for efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Write grants (i.e. Earthwatch) to facilitate citizen science participation.
  • Begin pilot monitoring with citizen scientists.
  • Design and populate the database structure for archiving the collected monitoring data.

Project Deliverables

  • Design and populate the database structure for archiving the collected monitoring data.
  • Peer-reviewed publication.
  • Power point presentation to solicit additional citizen scientist involvement.
  • Final report, including:
  • focal species’�� Vulnerability Analyses
  • habitat suitability models (tiff and shapefile formats)
  • maps showing distribution of monitoring stations and list of focal species currently included in each station (tiff and shapefile formats)
  • monitoring protocols to be employed at each monitoring station
  • database structure and data for the first field test
  • time and materials cost analysis for implementing the monitoring framework

 

Opportunities to learn more

Documents for downloading

Project Proposal