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By Nancy Bye 

Desert Critters and Climate Change


Last updated 5/18/2016 at 9:17am

Peter Tellone

Joshua Tree Sunset

Researchers from the National Park Service and UC, Riverside have been working for three years at Joshua Tree National Park to see how the climate change is affecting plants and animals.

There has been a sharp decline in the number of kangaroo rats, deer mice and cactus mice. Joshua trees are gradually dying out in low elevation areas.

Some lizards, coast horned lizards and side-blotched, are faring better at higher elevations.

Pinyon pines have been killed by beetle infestations caused by warmer winters.

The group recently surveyed a twenty-two-acre plot and saw nineteen zebra-tailed lizards, three desert tortoises, eight whiptail lizards, one desert iguana, and one desert horned lizard – a baby. They were encouraged to find the baby. The species is successfully breeding despite the drought.

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