desert ecology in the modern age

dutcher = my name (duhchər)

desertology = noun (dĕzərt-ŏlə-jē)

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Admittedly, not a word you will find in the dictionary, desertology is:

  1. The study of relationships between species in arid, forsaken, wild and uncultivated environments that have been, or will be, developed through urbanization or utility-scale solar construction, becoming increasingly less wild and more cultivated;
  2. The interaction of desert species with shrinking habitats through rapid and sometimes dramatic habitat alteration;
  3. Desert ecology in the modern age.

Arid environments, often seen as barren wastelands, are surprisingly diverse, often harboring high levels of endemic species. The plants and animals of desert ecosystems have evolved unique adaptations and a variety of survival strategies to compensate for high temperatures, lack of water, and alkaline soils. One strategy used by many desert animals is to spend large amounts of time (~80%) in thermoregulatory refugia, like an underground burrow. Because these species are not often seen during the day, it gives the illusion that deserts lack wildlife.

In North American deserts we are losing large tracts of continuous wildland and wildlife habitat as development rapidly increases. These pressures increase the risk of extinction for desert species through habitat loss, fragmentation, and isolation.

In order to protect these wild places and the species that live there we need to change our patterns and develop closer to urban areas. Increasing development in and around city centers would not only protect habitat, it could increase productivity by using existing infrastructure and provide local job opportunities.