Pictures from past incarnations of the Field Course in

The Ecology of the Sonoran Desert

THIS PAGE IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION. Images will be added as time permits. 

Red ballYour Instructors


Red ball2003 class       sitting on rails at back:  Denise Wong, Kurt Illerbrun;  left to right, standing rear:  Tiffany Rittau, Courtney McIntosh, Matt Timpf, Crystal lafrance, Liz Seip, Melanie Wolicki, Holly Sanderson;  kneeling:  Helen badham, Sarah Mackay, Lindsey Jean; Emma Ware;  reclining;  Vicki Cuthbertson.


Red ballScenes from a few campsites.


Red ballMonument Valley  We often stop here in Navaho country on our way down into the Sonoran Desert.


Red ballArizona Upland desert  A series of scenes from the higher-elevation section of the Sonoran desert.


Red ball Kofa   A scene in Kofa Refuge, near a favorite camp. To the right is the Saguaro, Cereus giganteus, next to an ocotillo, Fouquieria splendens. The small grey bushes are bursage Ambrosia dumosa, and the slightly larger greenish bushes are the creosote bush, Larrea tridentata. On the left is a cholla cactus (Opuntia). In the distance you can see mesquites (Prosopis) and Teddy-bear cholla (Opuntia bigelovii). Note the extensive desert pavement. Palm Canyon (see below) is in the mountains in the distance.


Red ballJoshua Tree National Park.  Since we've been going to the Califormia deserts, this park has become a firm favorite.


Red ballTres Virgenes  In central Baja, between Santa Rosalia and san Ignacio, are these extinct volcanos. In the foreground is an Elephant Tree, Pachycormus discolor, growing in the lava rubble.


Red ballCardon  A close-up of Pachycereus pringlei, the Baja California counterpart of the mainland Saguaro. To the right is Yucca valida.


Red ballJumping Cholla  Opuntia fulgida is one of the more dangerous plants you will encounter! These plants grow to the size of small trees. We had a memorable camp in a grove of these plants in Sonora, Mexico..


Red ballDesert IronwoodOlneya tesota, the Desert Ironwood tree is a leguminous tree characteristic of bajada slopes in much of the southern part of Arizona, along with Paloverde, Cercidium. Its wood is so dense, it sinks in water. Its stems are well-armed with flesh-ripping thorns. To the right is a fairly tall Larrea, the creosote bush.


Red ballFan palm  Here, eager students vie to be the first to fall off a Fan Palm Washingtonia filifera in Mexico.


Red ballPalm CanyonWashingtonia palms were once quite widespread in s. Arizona and California wherever permanent groundwater was available. Now they are restricted to a few relict localities like this one in far southwestern Arizona.


Red ballAgave shawii  This impressive plant is characteristic of the Vizcaino desert of Baja California. Here it is flanked by Lophocereus schotti, and in the distance you can see a mixed stand of Yucca valida (which somewhat resembles the Joshua Tree, Yucca brevifolia) and Idria columnaris, the Boojum Tree.


Red ballOrgan-pipe cactus  A large individual of Lemaireocereus thurberi in Sonora, Mexico, growing in association with Cercidium.


Red ballOrganpipe cactus flowers  Like most cactus flowers, these are much visited by insects and birds too.


Red ballPrickly pear - Opuntia phaeacantha  This is one of the most widely-distributed species of prickly-pear in our area.  We have used it several times in class projects to investigate how plants can show adaptive form so as to maximize their primary productivity.


Red ballPricky pear - Opuntia basilaris  Though this species doesn't have large spines, it DOES have the characteristic Opuntia minutely-barbed bristles known as glochids.  These glochids look innocuous, but they can be very dangerous if you brush against them with your fingers and then rub your eyes.......


Red ballA particularly fine specimen of the Saguaro cactus.   photo courtesy Dimitra Kandalepas


Red ballTumbleweed or Russian Thistle, Salsola kali.  This introduced plant has become characteristic of much of the arid and semi-arid west.  Here we see a particularly fine specimen being modeled by Jane.


Red ballChuckwalla   One of the larger lizards we are likely to encounter. Looks fearsome, but essentially harmless; it is a herbivore, eating creosote bush leaves as a staple..


Red ballAntelope Ground squirrels  One of themore readily-viewed terribly cute desert rodents.......  we usually see Kangaroo rats too.


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