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Desert Diary


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Mankind is famous for altering his circumstances to suit his needs. Clothing, houses, irrigation, things too numerous to mention allow people to live where otherwise only a fraction could exist and hardly said to thrive. But almost always, there are not only the results intended, but others not foreseen—some bad, and once in a while some good.

Examples of the bad in the Chihuahuan Desert includes the desertification of the region, pollution, and the destruction of wildlife habitat; and the cities themselves, with their paved streets and buildings, become islands of heat, just what we need in an already hot climate. On the other hand, the manipulation of landscape and vegetation provides microclimates and food resources absent before men. As a result, we sometimes see animals appearing where they could never have lived in the past. Some are unwelcome, like House Mice and Black Rats, but many of us get a kick out of seeing Robins nesting in the artificial groves of our parks and landscaping; Robins that otherwise would require a trip into the mountain islands of our desert.
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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.