Iconic Joshua trees may disappear—but scientists are fighting back
The unique plants are a popular symbol in Southern California, and they rely on a special relationship with moths. But climate change and other impacts are a serious threat.
The desert’s harshness breeds strange bedfellows—desert bats fly hundreds of miles in the night to feed on agave, and seedlings often rely on their dead forebears to provide shelter. But those relationships can make it hard to adapt in a changing climate.
Rising temperatures have set the natural world creeping uphill or northwards in search of relief. But ecosystems don’t move in lock-step. The foxes might outpace the tortoises which might outpace the trees. In the process, the ecological deck is shuffled. These changes threaten to unravel the interspecies networks on which desert organisms depend. And the Joshua tree, an international symbol of the American desert, seems to have been dealt a bad hand.
By 2100, scientists predict