USGS Western Ecological Research Center

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Mapping habitat and genetic diversity in the desert southwest

Image of Richness Patterns for 15 study species, Protection and Renewable Energy in the Mojave Desert

Multiple utility-scale solar, wind and geothermal energy development projects are currently underway or proposed across the Mojave and Sonoran Ecoregions of the southwestern United States to help meet the need for renewable energy sources. Agencies tasked with managing biological resources throughout this region must understand the potential impacts of these renewable energy plants and their associated infrastructure (e.g., transmission corridors, substations, access roads, etc.) in order to select the most appropriate development sites, and to properly mitigate for anticipated effects.  One of the major management concerns is determining how future development will impact wildlife habitat, connectivity, and genetic diversity.

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1) To model the geographic distributions of habitat for a broad taxonomic range of species and evaluate areas where species and their potential habitats overlap.

2) To assess patterns of genetic diversity across multiple species to locate and map evolutionary hotspots where multiple species show high levels of genetic diversity.

3) To evaluate these in relation to protected lands and proposed utility-scale renewable energy development to better understand species and community vulnerability.

USGS Contact For This Project
Amy Vandergast
(619) 225-6445
San Diego Field Station
4165 Spruance Road Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92101
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