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August 20 2013

Desert Plants Move Higher: Is It Climate Change?


A new study of desert plants living on the slopes of Arizona's Santa Catalina Mountains has uncovered a startling fact: many trees and shrubs have moved a long way up-slope over the last 50 years. The shift could be caused by a warming trend in recent decades in the Arizona desert, or perhaps the 20-year drought.

The study was done by surveying the varied plants and plant communities lined up along the Catalina Highway, which climbs from low desert to mountain top. The data was compared to that of a 1963 survey the famous botanist Robert H. Whittaker and his colleague William Niering did along the same stretch of road.

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