Friday, June 11, 2010

Special status species

In the Mojave, we are blessed/cursed with a large number of plant species, a significant number of which are rare or special status. This means that when we at the BLM are working on implementation of various projects, we have to look very carefully at where the proposals are located.

Special status plants are not uniformly rare, but are all protected by our policy. Some of our species, such as Cymopteris deserticola, the desert cymopteris, have a relatively large population. However, this doesn't mean that they are not rare, because they are only found in very specific habitats, and very few locations. This is like having an island which is the only location you can find the species, yet it is very abundant there. If you bulldoze the island to make houses, you have eliminated the only place that the species is found. So even though it was abundant, you've completely wiped it out. Or consider that with many of these plants, you can actually get a relatively accurate count of how many plants there are in the entire population. Try doing that with something like Larea tridentata, and you come to realize that there is a big difference between the two.

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