Henderson, NV

Hello! I’ve been in my internship for a full month now, working on a couple different plant monitoring projects for the US Geological Survey. Arriving in Henderson, NV was a bit of a whirlwind, as we jumped right into the field only two days after arriving.

There are three main projects I’ll be working on this summer, two of which I’ve already begun work with.

The first is a common garden project, where seedlings from 6 different climate zones within the Mojave desert are planted in 3 (for now) locations. After this summer’s data is collected, hopefully we’ll be able to tell if haplotypes from different regions are able to survive in other regions, or if they’re sensitive enough to slight shifts in temperature/rainfall that they can’t survive in other regions. This is super important information to know for any restoration efforts, to make sure seeds planted have a chance at survival.



Above is our Utah garden, in the coolest/wettest climate zone. After we did our measurements (canopy dimensions, stem diameters, and pre-dawn water potentials), we zipped down to the second garden near Joshua Tree National Park.



Things were a little further along at Joshua Tree, which is a comparatively warmer site. While creosote is one of the species we have planted in the gardens currently, none were quite flowering yet–the picture above is from a bush just outside our fence.

Our third site is actually located on the Fort Irwin Military Training site. However, on our way there our first trip…


…the car broke down. So we couldn’t make it to the base in time for the mandatory range safety course, and the trip had to be cut a little short.

However! It did mean I got back in time to volunteer on a short trip to near the north rim of the Grand Canyon, to help count and measure pediocacti.



The cacti we were looking at are super interesting–they suck down underground for the winter, and push back up through the dirt in the spring to flower. They mechanism and triggers for this have not been extensively studied as far as I’m aware, but you could really see the way they shoved rocks and things out of their way in order to flower.


They’re also super adorable!

That covers almost all of my first week and weekend in the Mojave and nearby areas. It is definitely a different landscape than what I’m used to, being from the midwest, and a very interesting one to explore.


Jessica Mikenas

Henderson, NV

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