Dancing with Extinction

Dancing with Extinction 1
The hardy yet delicate claret cup cactus, part of the diverse flora of the Mojave Desert. Image credit: Peggy Fiedler

In the summer of 2011, four University of Missouri journalism students toured California to learn about the Golden State’s phenomenal biological diversity. They interviewed botanists, other scientists, and conservation workers to understand why California has some of the most imperiled plant communities in the nation. Along the way, they visited natural habitats ranging from redwood forests to vernal pools to the Mojave Desert.

The students reported their findings in Dancing with Extinction, a special edition of the Center for Plant Conservation newsletter. Managers from two UC Natural Reserves feature prominently in the issue.

Jim Andre, director of Sweeney Granite Mountains Reserve, champions the diverse ecosystems of the Mojave Desert, where a solar energy plant threatens to obliterate the tortoises, cacti, and other native species of the Ivanpah Valley.

Cristina Sandoval, director of Coal Oil Point Natural Reserve, protects a critically endangered marsh plant and shorebird with creative ecosystem management efforts.

Andre and Sandoval are just two of the NRS managers and staff who promote the conservation, restoration, and study of California’s biological diversity at UC reserves across the state.