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Desert Diary


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Want to have a little fun? Take a walk through your favorite neighborhood, and as you do so, mentally subtract from the scene those plants and animals that are here only by the grace of man. Those pine trees? Wipe them out of your mind; they either belong in higher elevations or even to different continents. Bermuda Grass? No, not from Bermuda; that was only a way station on its route from Africa. Oleanders, perhaps? Sorry, northern Africa to southeastern Asia. Our elm trees? Native to northeastern Asia. Our tall, columnar cypress trees? Southern Europe and Asia. Our familiar mulberries? Try China.

Beginning to look a bit bare? How about the animals? Pigeons? Old World creatures, introduced deliberately by man as were House Sparrows and Starlings. Like pets? Remember, dogs and house cats are introduced from afar. If you're out a bit from the city, possibly sheep, goats, cattle, or horses grace your neighborhood; sorry, wipe them out, they aren't from around here. And of course there's one more critter that's been introduced from the Old World—us!
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Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.