Sierra College Department of Biological Sciences

Bio. Sci. 16V - Deserts of Southern California: Course Detail

(2 unit - approx. 54 hrs. min.)

Catalog Description: Emphasizes animal and plant adaptations to "hot" desert life (especially reptiles, birds, mammals and flowering plants) and a introduction to identification and classification of desert plants. Variety of Southern California's "hot" desert and coastal succulent scrub locations (ecological communities) will be explored including: Joshua Tree National Monument, Mojave, Salton Sea, and Anza-Borrego State Park. Special topics to be discussed includes affects of environmental pressures, variation in physical environments, and man's influence.

(typical class outline might include:)

Specific Topics:

Animal and plant adaptations to "hot" desert life; Classification and taxonomy of desert plant species; Environmental pressures and evolution - shaping an organism; Overall characteristics of the Sonoran and Mohave Deserts compared to the Great Basin Desert; Man's influence on the fragile desert ecosystems - current land use plans (BLM, etc.) and probable effects.

General Concepts and Topics to be emphasized:

Classification & Taxonomy - Plants and animals; Photosynthesis; Xeric, Mesic, Hydro - plant adaptations; Evapotranspiration and water balance; Air currents (global); Climate, wind, weather, circulation patterns; Microclimates & temperature variations; Light - nature, physics (composition, etc.); Soil Horizons - nutrients, etc. / wilting capacity; Variability in physical environment; Rain shadow effect (causes of deserts); Niche concepts; Allelopathy; Associations; Food gathering - energy costs; Carrying Capacity of the Environment; Theory of Evolution; Endangered and rare species; Natural Selection; Speciation - processes; Soil erosion / conservation; Environmental Ethics

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(For official course listings, please consult the Sierra College online course catalog.)

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