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Desert Diary


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The extinction of multitudes of plants and animals by the direct destruction of habitat isn't bad enough; the indirect effects of man-caused global warming promise to compound the problem. But, some point out, the earth has gone through large climatic swings before with minimum loss of biodiversity. Whether past changes resulted in peaks of extinction or not, there are new factors at work now. In past cycles of warming and cooling, organisms were relatively free to move with the habitat; too warm, shift the geographic range to the north; too cold, move south; or perhaps merely up and down the mountains as conditions required.

But these peregrinations didn't have to contend with fences, highways, croplands, and cities; with hunters carrying firearms, with polluted water, air, and land; with exotic, naturalized competitors from distant lands. Just consider our borderland region—a region that must resemble, to many animals and plants on the move, just one extensive obstacle course; a figurative mine field fraught with danger. Extinctions threaten more than the loss of species; they threaten our human quality of life.pen and ink

Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


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.