The trip that I have planned through Arizona is one that will take us Northeast for the most part. On this trip, we will be traveling through about six different biomes, all of which are in state!
The first area that I plan to visit is the Sonoran Desert Scrub area. This biome has an elevation below 3,500 feet and covers much of Southern and Central Arizona. This area also receives a lot of rain during both the summer and winter seasons. Although Phoenix is in the Sonoran Desert Scrub area, I would nevertheless like to travel just over an hour outside of the city so that I can see a more natural and not as heavily populated area.
The Sonoran desert scrub biome is home to many communities of life. These communities include:
Plants such as saguaros, chollas, mesquites, and ironwood.
Animals such as Javelinas, Gila Monsters, and Cactus Wren.
The second stop on the list is the Chaparral biome, just outside of the Sonoran desert scrub biome. The Chaparral is a mountainous area ranging from about 4,000-6,000 feet in elevation and receives 10-17 inches, on average, of rain annually.
The Chaparral native life includes:
Mammals such as mule deer, elk, and cottontail rabbits.
Many lizards and snakes.
Birds such as scrub jay, canyon wren, and black chinned sparrow.
Plants such as mountain mahogany, prickly pear cactus, agave, yucca, and many more.
Sky Island Alliance (SIA) is an organization that focuses on the protection of land, water, and air in southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and northwestern Mexico. Their mission is to “Protect and restore land, water, and biodiversity of the Sky Islands.” The Sky Islands are a set of mountain ranges in northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States. The mountain ranges protrude in the middle of flat, empty deserts. Each of the ranges has its very own unique ecosystems. As people continue to spread out, they start modifying parts of the Sky Islands. These modifications include building roads, houses, and having more people in the area altogether. The SIA’s vision is “We envision the Sky Islands as a bi-national place where ecosystems are resilient, nature thrives, and people are deeply connected to its unique natural heritage and inspired to conserve it.” Essentially, SIA wants people to continue visiting the Sky Islands, but without harming them too much. They do this by showing people the beauty of the Sky Islands and teaching of the things that harm the area. If there is harm done, the SIA tries to fix this harm in the healthiest and most effective way possible.
Sky Island Alliance constantly holds volunteer opportunities in Arizona and New Mexico. These events include land restortion, erosion control, replanting plants in dying areas, and many more. They even have an ongoing wildlife monitoring effort in Sonora, Mexico. The goal of this effort was originally to “document the presence of the region’s four feline species: jaguar, ocelot, bobcat and mountain lion, while engaging local landowners in wildlife conservation.”¹ They have since “expanded this effort to include carnivore conservation on a much broader level – [SIA] publish[es] new scientific discoveries resulting from our wildlife monitoring; conduct public outreach on the importance of carnivores to our ecosystem and our quality of life; and advocate for science-informed carnivore management policies.”¹