As a CLM intern at the USGS in Henderson, NV, I have had the opportunity to explore the unique desert habitat of Nevada and California. My three fellow CLM interns and I worked for several months on a project near Ft. Irwin in California, identifying the annual and perennial plants, taking biomass samples, and gathering general information about the plant community. We ran into all sorts of reptiles, like the desert tortoise and horned lizard, as well as bees and other insects.
We also saw a wide variety of flowering annuals and perennials, like the tiny, bright purple Nama demissum, the butter-yellow Malacothrix glabrata, the pink, spotted Eremalche rotundifolia, the speckled pods of Astragalus lentiginosis, and the orange Sphaeralcea ambigua.
In addition, we found interesting volcanic rocks and even fossils during our hikes around the area
Last month we worked on the Nevada National Security Site, formerly the Nevada Test Site, to continue monitoring the perennial plots set up in 1962 by Dr. Janice Beatley, of the University of California, Laboratory of Nuclear Medicine and Radiation Biology. Dr. Beatley originally set up the plots to assess the effects of radiation on plant communities, and when the NTS stopped above ground testing, the plots continued to be monitored and now provide a look at the change in Mojave plant communities over many years. It was fascinating to work in a place very few people have ever seen, as well as to be a part of such a long-running project. I am looking forward to the rest of the summer!