What’s in an Ecotone? Lichens living on the edge…

An ecotone is a transition zone between two ecological systems. Ecotones can range in size: in some places ecotones are wide (e.g. forest – grassland ecotones), in other places they are quite narrow (e.g. riparian – arid shrub steppe). In the ecotone, habitats from each ecosystem form a mixed patchy mosaic, often with species assemblages not found elsewhere, and interesting juxtapositions.

From “Ecotone Hierarchies” by James R. Gosz, in Ecological Applications, Vol. 3, No. 3. (Aug., 1993).

Ecotones are important beyond the conceptual wonderings they induce. For land management, monitoring how an ecotone shifts location over a landscape can demonstrate patterns of climatic change and ecosystem health, giving important data for developing strategies to encourage ecosystem resilience. Continue reading “What’s in an Ecotone? Lichens living on the edge…”

Northern Mojave Lichens: Part I — Interesting notes and Yucca People

Last April, Jason and I surveyed lichens in the northern Mojave. It’s the second field season of a three year study involving lichen biodiversity along the ecotone of the Great Basin and Mojave Deserts in Southern Nevada.

And what did we find? Lichens, yucca people, bizarre geology, and a new rock climbing area that’s being developed at Davidson Peak (Eastern Mormon Mt Range).. Continue reading “Northern Mojave Lichens: Part I — Interesting notes and Yucca People”

Open Source GIS software and Remote Sensing for Ecologists

Why remote sensing? Sure there’s something odd about satellites looking down on us everyday, a bit unsettling from a socio-political perspective. But from an ecological perspective, its a game changer, in a very good way.

Since the 1970s, NASA has been recording the earths surface at a resolution of about 1km. Thats large enough to see landscape change, but too blurry to see humans moving around.

And what can we see with these images? How about glaciers melting in the Northern Hemisphere, and glaciers expanding in the Southern Hemisphere. Or the landscape change in the region you grew up in as a kid. Continue reading “Open Source GIS software and Remote Sensing for Ecologists”