Carrizo Plain National Monument is spectacular right now. It is like that we have a very shifted early flowering season for many California deserts such as this one. On a recent expedition there to explore the viability of shrub-animal interaction experiments, we met with numerous local experts and saw so many wildflowers. Here is a quick synopsis of the anecdata from this process.
1. Flowering is very early this season likely at least 3-4 weeks in advance of the long-term patterns (i.e. within last 20 years).
2. Flowering could however continue and overlap with more the common phenological signal of end of March peak expression events if the light rains continue and things cool down.
3. Few pollinators were present on this expedition.
4. Numerous plant species, primarily forbs, are present in the flowering community this season that have not been present for at least 5 years. This could be an indication of the seeds ‘deciding’ that this is the best of the worst years, i.e. years of drought, and it is time to give it a shot and attempt to recharge the seedbank.
We selected the Elkhorn Plain region within the monument to examine plant-animal interactions. Truly amazing spot with incredible opportunities to explore plant facilitation dynamics and trophic interactions.