Deep Canyon Lecture Series

Facilitated by Dr. Chris Tracy, Director of the UCR Boyd Deep Canyon Desert Research Center, each free, in-person presentation is designed to examine the world in new and surprising ways. 
6 p.m. Jan. 11, 2024

Flowering, Growth, Physiology, and Mortality of Ocotillos in the Deep Canyon Watershed

Speaker: Dr. Ed Bobich

Deep Canyon

Ocotillos (Fouquieria splendens) occur in every warm desert of North America, with the Coachella Valley and the surrounding mountains being the northwesternmost portion of their range. Until now, the majority of published information on ocotillos has been based on studies and observations of plants in the eastern Sonoran Desert and Chihuahuan Desert. In this talk, Dr. Ed Bobich will present recently gathered data on ocotillos in the northwestern Sonoran Desert, highlight differences between local ocotillos and those in other regions, and discuss the future of ocotillos in a changing climate. 


6 p.m. Feb. 22, 2024 

Life On the Edge: Desert Tortoises at the Southern Limit of Their Range in the Coachella Valley

Speaker: Dr. Jeff Lovich of the U.S. Geological Survey, Flagstaff, AZ.

Dr. Jeff Lovich

Dr. Jeff Lovich of the U.S. Geological Survey, Flagstaff, AZ. will discuss Agassiz’s desert tortoises, which live throughout much of the Mojave Desert and portions of the western Sonoran Desert. They approach the southern limit of their range in the uplands surrounding the Coachella Valley of California where scattered populations occur. Tortoise habitat there is characterized by low topographic elevations and high annual temperatures compared with habitats to the north. As a result, tortoises in the region might be expected to be the first to experience the effects of warming temperatures, thus providing a bellwether for climate change.
Lovich has studied the ecology of tortoises in several locations around the Coachella Valley for almost 30 years, a requisite amount of time for beginning to understand such long-lived species. He'll give an overview of what has been learned about tortoise life history, demography, behavior, genetics, and other aspects of their biology in the region. 


6 p.m. March 14, 2024

Climate change's bad attitude: Study of mammals in Chile shows dramatic effects

Speaker: Dr. Doug Kelt of the Dept. of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, UC Davis

Small mammal

Dr. Doug Kelt of the Dept. of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, UC Davis, will outline the longest-running field experiment of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Initially established to study the relative influence of competition and predation on natural communities at a site in semi-arid Chile, this 35-year effort subsequently shifted to assess biotic versus abiotic influences (e.g., El Niño) on this system, the role of invasive rabbits and hares, and most recently to evaluate the relative influence of perennial and ephemeral food sources across El Niño/La Niña transitions.