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UA ARC 160D1-SA - Field Visit 3

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Michael LemoineProfessor Wendy Lotze ARC 160D Sonora23, November 2019 Field Visit: Arizona Sonora Desert MuseumFor my third field visit, I decided to visit the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum onNovember 22. I decided to visit the museum for my final field visit because I had the opportunityto see firsthand what I was learning. The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is one of the mostunique museums I have visited and displays a wide variety of exhibits. With that being said, themuseum also holds a distinguished collection of plant species. The experience at the Desertmuseum was interesting and enjoyable as I was able to tour around the museum and take intoaccount the massive display of different plant species all in one location.As I approached the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, my first stop was the botanicalgardens. I heard so much about it and was told that it consisted of all the things I was looking for.Luckily, as soon as I walked through the entrance, I became instantly aware of all the differentplant species that were displayed and mentioned throughout the course. Walking through thegarden, I was able to recognize different shrubs and herbs. I reached a spot on the tour wherethere were several pointy white flowers spread across a flower bed. As I approached the flowerbed, I began to investigate the specie. The “Jimson Weed” is a perennial herb that blooms mostlyin the later summer months and provides resources for other species such as the Hawkmoths andHornworms. Other plant species such as the Desert Marigold and the Soaptree Yucca are moreexamples of the diversity that the Sonora region consists unlike any where else. As an individualfrom the east coast, witnessing the drastic differences in plant species on a daily basis came tome as a surprise. Many of the plants I saw throughout the museum were all sorts of differentcolors and sizes, but what really fascinated me was the differences in structure and functionalityamongst the plants. As I began to do more research on different plant species, I found that eachplant is specifically structured the way it is and functions the way it does due to the irregularclimate and limited resources. Some plant species, such as the Soaptree Yucca, are tall palm likeshrubs that are habited in dry desert grasslands. On the other hand, species such as the DesertMarigold, don’t grow nearly as tall and are commonly seen on stony slopes and tend to bloomduring the rainy seasons.While in the museum, I was able to witness all sorts of plant species that coexist based ondifferent needs. In many ways, plant species in the Sonora region have become more diverse, dueto its unique desert climate. As some species thrive in the hot summer months, others thrive inthe colder and higher altitudes. The museum displays over two thousand different species ofplants. I learned that due to the bi seasonal rainfall, different species of plants are allowed toflourish in rather unexpected conditions. Made up of the pacific northwest winter storms and thegulf of California’s summer monsoons, the Sonora region is comprised of a limited, butsufficient amount of rainfall necessary for these plant species. As I continued to tour the garden, Inoticed two particular plants that stood out the most over the rest. The legume trees andcolumnar cacti spread all throughout the garden. The Palo Verde trees caught my attentionbecause of the numerous things that I never knew about it. The Palo Verde tree is the ArizonaState tree and is named after the Arizona State Museum. Additionally, there are two native PaloVerde species; the Foothills Palo Verde and the Blue Palo Verde. The Foothills Palo Verde can beseen on higher elevation surfaces, while the Blue Palo Verde is most likely seen next to a watersource. As they are commonly seen throughout Tucson, the Palo Verde tree have yellow greenlike trunks with tiny leaves. I found the Palo Verde tree interesting because of the way the treesgrow. Unlike most trees, the Palo Verde tree uses its bark to photosynthesize, due to the largeamount of chlorophyll found within its bark. One of my favorite plants I noticed throughout thebotanical garden was the Saguaro Cacti. The Saguaro cacti can reach as high as 60 feet tall andweighing over 4,500 pounds. It consists of protective spines that cover the cactus during thewinter months, white flowers in the late spring and red fruit in the summer seasons. The SaguaroCacti that is scattered throughout the garden and campus are found in southern Arizona andwestern Sonora, Mexico. The Saguaro Cacti also provides the environment several resources.When a Saguaro cactus dies, the remains of the cactus could be often used to build fences, roofs,or even furniture. Birds have also used the remains of dead Saguaro’s in order to build nests.Similarly, the Native Americans also became the pioneers in using the Saguaro as watercontainers in the dry Arizona climate. Throughout my experience at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, I was able to learnmore about the Sonoran Region and its species. The museum gave me the opportunity to observethese species and offer information about how it survives in the desert. I was able to learn severalinteresting facts about different species and what makes them unique. From plants that growfruits to plants that carry toxins, different species that inhabit the Sonoran region have significantimpacts to the ecosystem. Additionally, I was able to learn and understand why certain specieslook and function the way they do. With a different ecosystem than what I am accustomed to, Ihad to understand how and why there is such a greater diversity in species. With that being said,visiting the museum gave me the opportunity to investigate these species that seemed foreign


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