ESF 510A: Desert Ecology

2009-02-11 -

Pre-trip meeting dates changed.


58964 (for web registration)




Rachel Thiet






Spring 2009

Meeting Schedule:

Thu 2/5 (6:30PM-8:59PM)
Thu 2/26 (6:30PM-8:59PM)
Sun 3/8 - 3/21 (TBA)


Competency Area: Natural Communities II; Biosphere Science II competency by written permission of instructor only.
Restricted to ES masters students from December 9 – 16; open to all ES students on December 17; others by written permission of instructor(s) provided to the Registrar’s Office via FirstClass.

Please Note: Attendance at ALL pre-trip meetings is mandatory. Enrolled students who fail to drop the course at least 1 week before the first pre-trip meeting or who fail to attend the first pre-trip meeting will be held financially responsible for the cost of the trip and will forfeit their seat in the class. Students on the waitlist MUST attend the first pre-trip meeting. (Note: Should a seat become available, only those students on the waitlist who have attended the first pre-trip meeting will be considered for admittance). Limited scholarship money may be available to support students attending field study trips; availability of full or partial scholarships will be determined by course registration. Information about scholarship assistance and eligibility guidelines will be circulated to all ES students during registration by Rachel Thiet, Field Study Trip Director. The Sonoran desert of southern Arizona and northern Mexico has the highest level of species richness of any desert region in the world. Set against a dynamic backdrop of rugged, volcanic mountain ranges we will explore what many desert aficionados call The Desert Heart – the very core of North America’s desert landscape. Rich both in natural and cultural history, this region has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the emphasis of the course will be on Sonoran desert ecosystems and the fascinating adaptations that plants and animals have developed to be able to thrive in a landscape that gets just a few inches of precipitation a year, we will also investigate cross border issues that threaten the remarkable natural heritage of the region. These include conflicts surrounding water resources, grazing, and more recently impacts associated with illegal immigration and drug trafficking. The core of the trip will be in Mexico’s Pinacate National Park. The Pinacate is a volcanic landscape with about a dozen huge explosion craters, hundreds of cinder cones, and rugged lava flows. It has an exquisite mix of desert flora and fauna and holds the oldest human antiquities in the Americas including ancient footpaths that are at least 12,000 years old with some researchers suggesting that they may have originated 35,000 years ago. Total cost including airfare, food, camping fees, etc. is $1500.