Welcome to the Chihuahuan Desert

Hi everyone!

A large amount of seed production begins in late summer here in the Chihuahuan Desert! Since many desert plants rely on the summer monsoon season to begin flowering, I have only been in Carlsbad, NM for a little over a month now. Being from the tallgrass prairies of Kansas, the desert has been a drastic change in scenery! However, desert ecosystems are fascinating and being an SOS intern means that I get to see so many unique plants and help to collect their much needed seed.

One of the biggest challenges so far has definitely been the heat. During my first week in Carlsbad, the temperatures were reaching 106°F! This is why the monsoon season is welcomed in the area, since rain brings cooler weather and a lush landscape. Another characteristic that takes some getting used to is the prominent presence of the oil and gas industry. Aside from the obvious habitat degradation the industry causes, the oil and gas pads emit gases that have the potential to cause serious harm. One gas of note is Hydrogen Sulfide. This gas, which is colorless and odorless, can be fatal if the concentration is too high. Since this is a major health concern, we need to have H2S monitors handy whenever we are in the field. Despite the potential hazards of the desert, I am having a great time becoming familiar with this ecosystem and all of its associated flora and fauna.

An example of just how many oil rigs can consume an area.

Believe it or not, this is an oak forest! (Quercus havardii)

Proof that this plant is indeed an oak.

One of my favorite desert plants so far, Chilopsis linearis.

Aristida purpurea (One of the plants that we have made numerous collections of so far.)

Yucca elata

One of the many storms that we have seen brewing in the distance.

Best,

Caitie

BLM Carlsbad Field Office

Seeds of Success Intern

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