Citizen Science and The Race North: Population Ecology of Joshua Trees In an Era of Climate Change



Friday, March 18, 2014  7 pm – 9 pm,

Saturday, March19, 2014  9 am – 4 pm,

Sunday, March 20, 2014  9 am – 4 pm,

Monday, March 21, 2014  9 am – 7PM.

Meet at: Meadview, Arizona
Fee: $250 members $260 non members + lodging
Instructors: Chris Smith, Ph.D. Assistant Professor & Researcher at Willamette UniversityTodd Esque, Ph.D. Ecologist, U.S. Geological Survey’s Western Ecological Research Center
Hike Level: Moderate

Joshua trees are one the most unusual and recognizable plants of the Mojave Desert, but the future of these remarkable plants are threatened by ongoing global climate change. Computer models predict that within the next 100 years Joshua trees may disappear from much of their current range, and emerging demographic data suggest that many populations in the southern Mojave Desert are already on their way to extinction. It is possible that the species may be able to survive by migrating to more temperate environments further north, but the trees’ capacity to escape warming climates will depend on how quickly they are able to colonize new habitats. The western edge of the Grand Canyon provides a remarkable venue to study the effects of climate change on Joshua trees. Where the Colorado Plateau meets the Mojave Desert the sweeping hillsides descend over 4000 feet in the space of less than ten miles. Across this gradient a single population of Joshua trees experiences a range of climates as different as Palm Springs is from Bishop, California. This natural laboratory allows us to step into the future to discover how changes in the Earth’s climate may affect the reproduction and survival of Joshua trees. During a three-day citizen science program, participants in this course will contribute to ongoing scientific research on the population ecology of this most famous Mojave Desert species. Click for the most recent news about Dr. Smith.  Sample Lab Manual from a previous class.

Food, lodging, gas and supplies are available in Meadview, AZ which is approximately 30 miles from the research site.  Primitive camping is also available much closer to the research site.  Map of the research site and amenities.  For more information, please call 760-367-5535.

Click to download the course outline: Citizen Science Population Ecology of Joshua Trees – Spg2014

Here are some participant reviews of the Chris Smith’s March 2013  class:

“I can’t tell you what an absolutely delightful trip I had.  Very well organized and the people were so very knowledgeable.  Thank you for all of your attention to detail to help guide us through.”

“Thanks for all of your efforts related to the course … it was great.”

“Chris Smith is very knowledgeable and passionate about what he does, which made it all that more enjoyable for the rest of us.”


If you are a member of JTNPA/PINE you will get a $10 discount off every Desert Institute class. If you are not a member you can become one here.

Please take the time to review our General Class Information and Fitness Levels before registering.


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