Digital-Desert : Mojave Desert
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Ecology & the Environment

Desert Habitats

Pinyon-Juniper Woodland

At higher elevations, particularly on north-facing slopes pinyon and juniper trees cling to ...

Pinyon-Juniper*

(PJN) Pinyon Species, Juniper Species, Mountain Mahogany Species
Pinyon-juniper (PJN) habitat typically is an open woodland of low, round crowned, bushy trees that are needle-leaved, evergreen, and depending on ...

Joshua Tree Woodland

Joshua Trees tell you are truly in Mojave country. Though can grow 50 feet tall, they are ...

Joshua Tree*

(JST) Joshua Tree, Juniper Species, Mojave Yucca
Joshua Tree habitats are characterized as open woodlands of widely scattered Joshua trees with a low to more or less dense community of ...

Cactus Yucca Scrub

Cactus, or mixed desert scrub includes the popular notion of "desert." ...

Desert Succulent Shrub*

(DSS) Octillo, Mojave Yucca, Desert Agave
Desert Succulent Shrub habitats typically are low, open shrublands dominated (at least visually) by stem or other succulent plants. When Joshua trees are present in any number the habitat is considered a Joshua Tree habitat.

Desert Dunes

Prevailing winds carry sands from dry lakes and other areas in the sinks and washes to form sand dunes ...

Creosote Bush Scrub

Strong-scented creosote bush and bursage dominate much of the Mojave. Low-lying expanses are covered by ...

Desert Scrub

*
(DSC) Creosotebush, Catclaw Acacia, Desert Agave
Desert Scrub habitats typically are open, scattered assemblages of broadleaved evergreen or deciduous microphyll shrubs usually between 0.5 and 2 m (1.5 and 6.5 ft) in height; desert scrub plants rarely exceed ...

Desert Wash

Washes generally flow intermittantly after heavy rains, a feast or famine of water that creates specific ...

Desert Wash*

(DSW) Paloverde Species, Desert Ironwood, Mesquite
Desert Wash habitats are characterized by the presence of arborescent, often spiny, shrubs generally associated with intermittent streams (washes) or drier bajadas (alluvial deposits adjacent to washes), ...

Desert Riparian

Desert Riparian habitats are characterized as dense groves of low, shrublike trees or tall shrubs ...

Desert Riparian*

(DRI) Tamarisk, Mesquite, Fremont Cottonwood
Desert Riparian habitats are characterized as dense groves of low, shrublike trees or tall shrubs to woodlands of small to medium-sized trees ...

Fan Palm Oases

All natural or naturalized plant assemblages that include California fan palms are recognized as ...

Palm Oasis*

(POS) Fan Palm, Velvet Ash, California Sycamore
All natural or naturalized plant assemblages that include California fan palms are recognized as Palm Oasis habitats, cultivated stands of ...

Alkali Desert Scrub*

(ASC) Allscale, Saltbush Species, Shadscale
Alkali Scrub plant assemblages (primarily chenopods) are generally subdivided into two phases: xerophytic and halophytic. The xerophytic phase (here, including Shadscale Scrub) consists of open stands of ...

Salt Marsh Plant Communities

  • Alkali Marsh Plant Community
  • Desert Sink Scrub Plant Community
  • Saltbrush Scrub Plant Community

Rippled sand dunes sing an eerie chorus. Cactus flowers bloom after a spring rain, jewels against buff-colored earth. Saltbush borders a dry lakebed, and countless Joshua tree limbs reach toward the sky as if in prayer. Mojave is all of these scenes and more -- a bounty for the senses.

Summer temperatures often exceed 100 F; yearly rainfall ranges four to 14 inches. Mountains, cinder cones, lava beds, sand dunes and dry lakes attest to the geological forces at work through the ages.

Many variables -- elevation, moisture, soil composition, exposure to the sun and shelter from the wind create habitats for plants and animals. Habitats of course, do not have hard boundaries and often overlap. Different habitats may be encountered within a short distance of each other.

Ecosystems and Habitats

More specific information about the desert habitats described and includes mountain habitats.
  • Tree Dominated Habitats
  • Shrub Dominated Habitats


    A somewhat heavy-handed example of a cactus-yucca scrub habitat along the desert foothill slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains in Phelan at evening twilight.


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