The Tortoise and the City

This short essay examines the relationship between the Mojave desert tortoise and the City of Las Vegas. The tortoise is an emblematic animal of the area and a popular pet, yet is threatened with extinction in the wild. 

The Origin of Moisture Sources for the North American Monsoon

This work evaluates the moisture sources that contribute to North American Monsoon precipitation over a 30-year period. The modified analytical dynamic recycling model is used to evaluate the contributions from several important oceanic and terrestrial regions. This computationally-efficient modeling framework reveals previously overlooked moisture source regions such as Central America and the Caribbean Sea in addition to the well-known Gulf of California and Gulf of Mexico source regions.

Linking Participatory, Bayesian, and Agent-based Modeling Techniques to Simulate Coupled Natural-human Systems in Sonora, Mexico

Conflicts for water between human use and ecological function have increased in recent years for semi-arid rivers. In the semi-arid Rio Sonora watershed, precipitation varies widely both annually and seasonally. In a harsh arid climate with limited water resources, ranching remains one of the few remaining options to support livelihoods. Water resources are an important component to ranching operations, but are limited and costly.

Grain Production from Distichlis Palmeri

Distichlis palmeri is a perennial rhizomous dioecious saltgrass endemic to the often-flooded tidal marshes of the Colorado River delta where water salinities can exceed that of seawater. In its natural habitat, female plants produce a grain that has historical relevance as a wild harvest staple of the Cocopah people. Grain production from plants grown from seed under greenhouse conditions required four years of maturation under paddy type cultivation.

Drought Frequency in Paleoclimate Records and Climate Models

I compare the drought duration in instrumental and paleoclimate records with long simulations from the latest Earth System Models. Instrumental and paleoclimate data indicate that decadal to multidecadal drought can be common around the globe. However, climate model data suggest that models are unable to capture and reproduce long periods of drought. Our findings suggest that the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR5) climate models likely underestimate future drought risk.

Seasonality of Groundwater Recharge in the Basin and Range Province, Western North America

Groundwater is an important source of freshwater in semi-arid regions. It is critical to understand the current groundwater recharge regimes in basins throughout western North America. and how they might shift in the face of climate change. Watersheds in the Basin and Range Province are characterized by wet winters and variable summer precipitation determined by the dynamics of the North American Monsoon.

Fences, Ranchers, and Environmentalists

My project, a portion of my dissertation, explores Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s "Running Fence" as a roadmap for new directions in eco-critical studies of American art history. Although Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s "Running Fence" is often treated as a temporary land art installation, it needs to be considered in a broader framework.

Temperature-driven Seedling Drought Response in a Community of Sonoran Desert Winter Annual Plants

Drought-induced desiccation is the primary cause of mortality in this system of annual plants, and seedlings are especially vulnerable. A seedling’s environment is largely determined by germination timing, yet little is known about how germination cues match up to subsequent environments for growth and survival. To make this connection, we examined the effect of drought on seedling establishment in different temporal environments.

Decomposition Rates Along a Hydrological Gradient in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area

Nearly 90% of net primary productivity enters the soil system where it decomposes. At broad scales, decomposition rates are typically represented as a function of annual mean temperature and moisture. The relationship at local scales, however, becomes more complex and disentangling the factors that drive decomposition (soil biology, plant chemistry) remains challenging.

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