Climate change threatens an iconic desert tree

By National Geographic – October 28, 2015

Close your eyes and imagine a species living in a harsh environment threatened by climate change. If you conjured up a polar bear, Cameron Barrows has a suggestion: Consider, instead, the Joshua tree—the gnarly icon of the Southwest’s Mojave Desert that looks like it sprang from a Dr. Seuss book.

“Animals living in the Arctic get a lot more attention than plants in arid lands, but desert plants like the Joshua tree are also threatened by a changing climate,” says Barrows, a research ecologist at the University of California, Riverside’s Center for Conservation Biology.

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