Field Notes

Border Wildlife Study: Vegetation and Drought in the Borderlands

May 21, 2021

For the last year, the Border Wildlife Study cameras have documented an amazing array of wildlife species across the San Rafael Valley and the Patagonia and Huachuca Mountains that flank it on the west and east. One of the interesting questions of our study is: How does the wildlife community vary across the different habitats…
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Friday Flora Feature: Canyon Grape

November 12, 2020

For this week’s Friday Flora Feature, we’re spotlighting Vitis arizonica, a grape species we often see while seeking water resources in the Sky Island region. Keep reading to learn how to identify this species when you’re out hiking, camping, or helping us monitoring our springs.  Description:  Vitis arizonica, commonly called canyon grape, Arizona grape, or Jiragui in Spanish, is a wetland plant that flowers between April and…
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Microscopic View of a Cholla Fruit

November 1, 2020

When you zoom in closer and closer to living things you encounter in the Sky Island region, it’s amazing what you find! I was recently drawn to look more closely at the Desert Christmas Cholla (Cylindopuntia leptocaulis) growing in my yard. Its scientific name means cylindrical slender stem, a fitting name for this short and branching cactus abundant…
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Seep Willow or Willow Species?

October 22, 2020

Is seep willow part of the willow family? How can I tell a seep willow plant from a willow tree? Today’s flora feature explores these commonly asked questions. We’ll break down the differences between seep willows and willow trees (hint: they may look similar, but they are not closely related) and provides some identification tips…
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Friday Flora Feature: Bear Grass

July 10, 2020

I fell in love with bear grass in the gorgeous grasslands of the San Rafael Valley, where our Border Wildlife Study cameras were set up this spring. Bear grass punctuates the Southwest landscape at elevations between 2,700 and 6,500 feet as rosettes up to 6 feet wide with long leaf blades and tall flowering stalks called inflorescences that appear in late spring. It grows across a range of habitats, from…
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