Field Work

Field Snapshots!

Time lapse of graduate student Jenna Ekwealor and her field assistant and husband Somi Ekwealor tending to experimental Syntrichia plots in the Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center. 

Mojave Desert, NV

Monitoring Syntrichia caninervis microclimate and hydration time!

Research led by Theresa Clark, UNLV.

The Dimensions ecophysiology group of students and professors during a Mojave Desert field foray in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, Northeast of Las Vegas. The Creosote-White Bursage life zones is hotter than 100 F most days in the summer, but Syntrichia caninervis can be found here in buffered microhabitats like shallow drainages and north-facing slopes.


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Measuring photosynthetically active radiation in microhabitats dominated (previously) by Syntrichia caninervis. How much full-sun do they experience throughout the year?

Floristic Collecting of Syntrichia in N. America

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, UT

Moss hunting for Syntrichia in a land rich with biocrust and moss diversity hot spots!

Grand Staircase is a geologically diverse monument with many canyons that support biocrust on shaded slopes.

Theresa Clark and John Brinda have collected several species of Syntrichia in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Moss hunting in these canyon lands requires extreme hiking and hunting for buffered (climatically protected) microhabitats!

Transplanted Biocrust Experiment, UT

The Bowker Lab (NAU) has an ongoing common garden project for biocrust communities that were transplanted from three sites in the field to foreign sites along an aridity gradient in Utah. This reciprocal transplant experiment will test if small climatic changes in stress exposure cause physiological responses in these biocrust organisms (Syntrichia included). Results will have implications for climate change impacts on these communities from similar degrees of increased environmental stress!

Common Garden Sites-Bowker
The biocrust common garden (including 2 species of Syntrichia) was set up at 3 sites varying in elevation across the Colorado Plateau (a). Images a-d depict the three gardens, and images e-f. demonstrate the diversity and maturity of the individual biocrust transplants. Image g. shows flashing addition (barrier that protects cultures from surrounding soil) prior to transplanting into the garden.


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M. Cristina Rengifo sampling Syntrichia stems in the mature biocrust common gardens. Moss tissues were collected to determine genotypic sex ratio and a desiccation tolerance index based on signature transcriptomics assay.