Field Notes

Tracking Saguaros—75 Years of Change in the Cactus Forest

November 11, 2019

The cactus forest at Saguaro National Park is changing. In 1941, concerned park researchers established 6 plots containing saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) in the Rincon Mountain District to track park populations of the iconic giant cactus over time. I can imagine the mounting concern that park staff shared in the 1940s as they witnessed an increasing…
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Construyendo Puentes a través de la Hermandad: Proyecto de Parques Hermanos

November 8, 2019

Durante años, Sky Island Alliance ha desempeñado un papel clave en la construcción de amistades profesionales entre reservas naturales en Arizona y el norte de México que comparten comunidades y recursos ecológicos similares. Desde el año 2014, Sky Island Alliance ha trabajado para conectar a los administradores de recursos naturales de México y los EE….
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Vinca in Aravaipa Canyon

November 7, 2019

Periwinkle (Vinca major) Greater periwinkle (Vinca major) is a flowering vine native to the Mediterranean and is popular in homes and gardens for its attractive purple flowers. While it looks nice in your backyard, vinca is an aggressive invasive species if it’s accidentally introduced into the right areas.  In Arizona, vinca spread from homes and…
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Building Bridges through Sisterhood – Sister Parks Project

November 6, 2019

For years, Sky Island Alliance has played a key role in building relationships between reserves in Arizona and northern Mexico that share similar ecological communities and resources. Since 2014, Sky Island Alliance has worked to connect resource managers from Mexico and the US to talk about management needs, identify challenges, and brainstorm collaborative solutions, since…
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Another Tracking Workshop in the books!

November 5, 2019

Two weeks ago Sky Island Alliance hosted our Fall 2019 Tracking Workshop. We had a fabulous time with a group of 16 newly trained trackers. They quickly picked up the art of tracking through hands-on experience and time in the field to practice. During the workshop they learned how to observe the wildlife around them…
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New Border wall threatens Desert Oasis at San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge

November 4, 2019

Along the US border with Mexico, sits a unique marsh called the San Bernardino cienaga, where wildlife migrates across the international border between Mexico and the mountains of Arizona. This remarkable desert oasis has the highest diversity of bees in the world. With more than 500 species filling the air with sound as they pollinate…
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Creature Feature: Western Spotted Skunk

November 1, 2019

Did you know that the Sky Island region is home to four skunk species? There are the striped, hooded, and hog-nosed skunks, but the smallest is the western spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis). You can tell the spotted skunk apart from the other species by their distinctive marbled coat and smaller size. The male skunk they…
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Tarantula vs. Tarantula Hawk—A Halloween Horror Story with a Happy Ending

October 28, 2019

On a warm September evening near Saguaro National Park in Tucson, I arrived home and stumbled upon a tarantula hawk circling around a small, female desert blonde tarantula that it had just paralyzed. Notorious for having one of the world’s most painful stings for humans, tarantula hawks must paralyze a tarantula to complete its lifecycle….
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The Mexican Origin of Pumpkins

Did you know that the pumpkins we decorate to celebrate Halloween trace their early origins to pre-Hispanic Mexico? A crop that dates back more than 7,500 years, the earliest pumpkins were much smaller and tougher than the plump orange pumpkins we recognize as iconic symbols of fall today. These ancient pumpkins were an important staple…
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Big Win for Wildlife in Northern Mexico

October 25, 2019

In early October, legislation to make wildlife crossings mandatory for roads in Sonora, MX was unanimously passed into state law by Sonoran Congress. This is the first state law of its kind and means that roads like Highway 2, a major highway that parallels the US-MX border in Sonora, will have public policy support to…
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