Archive for the ‘riparian’ Tag

Plant Adaptation Makes For A Very Diverse Sonoran Desert   6 comments

Being able to adapt is fundamental to all organisms to survive in their ecological niche or habitat. This ability is often more evident in harsh environments such as the desert. Plants need water and sunlight, some more or less than others.

Here in the Sonoran desert, plants that can adopt to a lot of sun and little water adopt well to the hot, dry conditions. While plants needing more water have adapted to conditions near water, i.e., riparian areas where annual foliage plants color the desert at this winter solstice time of year.

Sabino Canyon Colors Dec 2013-9177 blogPlant Adaptation In The Desert — Image by kenne

Another example of plant adaptation can be found on rocky canyon wall facing the north in Sabino Canyon, just a few hundred feet from where the above photo was taken — there is no direct sunlight this time of year. Even in dry conditions, the wall can provide a perfect hitch for fern, moss and “resurrection” plants.

However, what really caught my attention was a small saguaro cactus that was growing out of the north canyon wall, which had fallen over and has continued to grow. Given the size of the plant and the fact that saguaros are very slow-growing plants, taking 6-7 years to grow an inch in the beginning of what can be a 200 year life, this still small cactus is probably about 20 years old — talk about plant adaption.

This guy is a real survivor!


P.S. Today we are getting much-needed rain in the desert with snow above 4,000 feet. The ferns, moss and resurrection plants will really green-up over the next days.

Sabino Canyon Colors Dec 2013-9198 blogSaguaro Cactus — Image by kenne

Strike It Rich — Sabino Canyon Geology Kit   8 comments

Naturalist, Gwen Swanson, Demonstrates “Panning” to Students — Image by kenne

The Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists (SCVN) training includes many topics important to Sabino Canyon and the Santa Catalina Mountains in southern Arizona. One of the topics is the study of Earth’s history. Over time, the region has undergone geological changes that have made the canyon what it is today. 

Yesterday, I observed fifth-graders participating in the SCVN activity, “Strike It Rich,” conducted by naturalist, Gwen Swanson. The creekside activity allows children to learn about difference between rocks and minerals by panning for garnets and magnetite in the sand, and the importance of water in forming the canyon. 

One of the things unique about Sabino Canyon are its banded cliffs. Students learn that these beautiful formations are composed of a hard metamorphic rock called “gneiss,” which formed 1.5 billion years ago. In the Strike It Rich kit, students see example of minerals and gneiss. After the panning activity, the naturalist leads the students on a nature walk where they see the geology of the canyon, pointing out examples of gneiss.


Gwen Swanson Using a Magnet to Show That Magnetite  in the Sand Along Sabino creek — Image by kenne 

Gneiss Boulders Along Sabino Creek — Image taken in mid-September by kenne

Gwen Swanson Leading A Nature Walk Through The Riparian Area of Sabino Canyon — Image by kenne

Sabino Creek Is Dry — Almost!   13 comments

This was Sabino Creek on September 14th . . .

. . . this was Sabino Creek, October 27th. There was a nice flow after late monsoon rains in September, but as noted in this morning’s Arizona Daily Star, “A brief autumn dry-up of the stream is not uncommon after monsoon rains end. But this year’s rains were sketchy in the canyon, and the forecast shows no promise of moisture to turn the flow on again anytime soon.” (Click here to read more.

The creek has been without a flow since mid-October, making it a little difficult for the Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists (SCVN) to conduct one of their elementary school children activities, “Creek Critters,” this past week.

However, a few ponds of water remain, so the schedule of activities along the creek continued.

There was plenty of water for the kids to have fun learning about the unique aquatic and riparian habitats in a desert environment. Few things can out do a day in Sabino Canyon, water flowing or not!

I like going to Sabino Canyon —

I like going to Sabino Canyon,
a place to be with nature.

I like the people there,
sharing feelings with nature.

I like being able to see
the beauty of nature.

I like going to Sabino Canyon —

I like being able to reflect
on nature’s art.

I like close-up encounters
with all things natural.

I like capturing the moment,
drawing inspiration from nature.

I like going to Sabino Canyon —

I like learning new ways
to connect with nature.

I like getting to know me
through the connections.

I like being surprised
by the wonders of nature.

I like going to Sabino Canyon —

I like the feelings of being alive
by walking with nature.

I like knowing that
forever is the life of nature.

I like knowing that
all that is, is nature.

I like going to Sabino Canyon.


(Images by kenne)

Animals Blinding In   1 comment

Clark’s Spiny Lizard In A Tree Near The Sabino Canyon Riparian Area — Image by kenne

Animals blend (camouflage) in with their environment so that others might overlook them. The ability to adapt to the surroundings is natural camouflage, which helps an animal hide itself from predator and prey.

The above photo is of a Clark’s Spiny Lizard, who’s normal habitat is not normally in trees, but see how he blends in.

Another example is the red-spotted toad pictured below. The ability for each to adapt to their environment increases chances of survival, and its chances of reproducing.


Red-Spotted Toad in a Sabino Canyon Dam Crack — Image by kenne

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