As I settle into Ridgecrest, I finally feel as if I am starting my job. Over the last few weeks, myself and the other SOS intern have started collecting seed and tissue samples. There has been a lot of difficultly in trying to figure out what protocol should be followed for each sample. Last week we filled out the wrong data sheets for the samples we mailed off. This mistake was mostly due to the fact that we still lack computer access at work, making it difficult to find the proper instructions for each species. Next week myself and the other SOS intern are going to meet up with an employee of the Santa Ana Botanic Garden, which will be extremely helpful in figuring how to properly follow their instructions.
Besides all of the mistakes, going out and scouting has been a lot of fun. It’s really amazing to get to hike/drive around see all the different ecosystems in the Ridgecrest field office.This environment could not be more different that the high humidity and total green of the southeast US. I feel that every canyon we walk into looks so different than the one we were in the previous day. The variability in plant diversity throughout the area is really surprising to me. Diversity here is not only controlled by soil type and moisture but by ability to be dispersed to that area.
Last week we went out to collect for a wildflower show that the Ridgecrest community is currently putting on. This exhibit showcases the high level of biodiversity in the desert. I never thought I would see riparian areas with amphibians and cottonwoods out in the middle of the desert but you can hike just a few miles and go from Joshua trees to willow trees. I feel really grateful to have the opportunity to come out here and have an experience unlike anything I could have had on the East coast.