WJT, Wildfires, Southern California, GIS, Threatened Species
Data Science | Environmental Health and Protection
West of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, located in southwestern California lives an endemic and very iconic North American Mojave Desert species, the Western Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia). The Western Joshua Tree (WJT) is a keystone species in a healthy Mojave Desert ecosystem and provides environmental resources and shelter to species located within it. Over the last 40 years wildfires have been recorded to be one of the most negative factors impacting the WJT by having a high mortality rate in wildfire events and destroying their reproduction efforts. This study was conducted to contribute to a peer reviewed status report to list the WJT as a threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) of 1970 with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. All data used in this study was spatially analyzed using ArcGIS Pro ESRI-supported shapefiles illustrating 6.62 % (271,065 acres) of the WJT habitat has been burned over the past four decades. This study found that in Southern California the WJT habitat is being burned at an increasing rate and is being negatively impacted by California wildfires. Although there are conservation efforts to protect the WJT through national parks, national forests, and local NGO’s, the act of utilizing the CESA and listing the WJT as a threatened species must be enacted to ensure survivorship.
Department 1 Awarding Honors Status
Thompson, J. (2021). The Last Four Decades of Wildfire Impacts on the Western Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) in Southern California (Undergraduate honors thesis, University of Redlands). Retrieved from https://inspire.redlands.edu/cas_honors/1012
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