Desert Ecology: Mapping of Invasive Species.



As development confronts the Sonoran Desert, a consequence has been the introduction of invasive plants into natural spaces. The ecological damage caused by this alien vegetation negatively impacts the desert landscape by: displacing native plants, altering water flow patterns and creating fuel for fires.

An invasive plant is generally not native to the Sonoran Desert. These plants compete with native plants and have the ability to take over an area. Invasive plants can displace native plants. If forced to feed on invasive species, desert animals can become sick, leave the area for a more palatable food source or possibly die. Invasive plants upset the sensitive and natural ecological balance of the surrounding area and can also disrupt the habitat for desert wildlife.

Buffelgrass is
one invasive plant I will study for this project. Buffelgrass was brought into the Sonoran Desert by pioneer settlers in the 1800. The grass was spread by settlers who dreamed of turning the desert into pasture land for anew cattle economy in Arizona. Buffelgrass has become a serious threat to the Saguaro cactus forest of the Sonoran Desert region by diverting natural water supplies. Some researchers believe the wild Saguaro cactus population will be eradicated due to Buffelgrass with in the next century.

Through this project I wish to explore the modern development that has altered desert ecological systems in the name of
economic 'progress' and the consequences posed by this ideal. Using the either Cyberware 3030 laser scanner or the Kaidan (3D qtvr photo rig), I will 3D model Buffelgrass. I will explore scale as the project develops. I also study the human relationship with the introduction of invasive species and the damage to the natural desert system.

Sources
University of Arizona http://www.uapress.arizona.edu/onlinebks/weeds/species.htm
USDA http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/unitedstates/az.shtml#univ
McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, www.mcdowellsonoran.org
Arizona Native Plants Society, www.aznps.org
Desert Botanical Gardens, www.desertbotanical.org
Bonfire of the Superweeds- Buffelgrass

Data capture
Explore organic Design of weeds
Scale-Perhaps create artificial landscape based on date
History of invasive plants in Sonoran desert
Explore the human relationship with the introduction of invasive species and the damage to the natural desert system.