The Joshua Tree, which only grows in the Mojave Desert of California, is one of the iconic symbols of The Golden State and it has been featured in many motion pictures, fashion shows and advertisements. However, the drought in California is beginning to take its toll on the resistant tree and scientists worry that it may even die altogether if the weather pattern does not change soon.
UC Riverside ecologist Cameron Barrows, explains that the sight of skeletal Joshua Trees throughout the Mojave desert, are a common sight to behold and that it is getting more and more difficult for these trees to multiply.
The dry, hot weather conditions make it difficult for Joshua Trees to grow and what little rain falls on their leaves, it evaporates so fast that the little seedlings have no time to grow proper roots before drying up and dying.
The Joshua Tree National Park should get by fine, with an average of 4 inches of rain per year, but due to climate changes, that quota has not been reached in several years. So far, it`s past the middle of 2015 and only 1.75 inches of rain have fallen on the Californian ground.
By the end of the century, if weather conditions do not change for the better, meaning more humid and cooler conditions, the Joshua Tree will reduce its population by over 90%.
The Joshua Tree is not the only species from the Joshua Tree National Park that is in danger. Many other creatures who live and develop close to the trees like, yucca moths, skipper butterflies, termites, ants, desert night lizards, kangaroo rats are in danger of disappearing.
The Joshua Trees also offer shelter to 20 species of birds including Scott’s orioles, ladder-backed woodpeckers and great horned owls, them too will be affected by the disappearance of the Californian symbol.
Scientists say that the global temperatures will increase by 5-7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century and that this is a climate change that the Joshua Tree will not be able to adapt to and will lead to their demise. they also add that because Joshua Trees live for about 200 years, our generations have not experienced a massive decline in their numbers just yet. This will happen to future generations.
The new information came as a result of a study that, Cameron Barrows and his team alongside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, did in order to map out the recent behavior of Joshua Trees and how they are affected by climate change.
Image Source: kylehammons