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FODM: Community Science - Plant Surveys

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

Friends of the Desert Mountains (FODM) protects open space in the Coachella Valley and surrounding mountains by acquiring and preserving open land, cleaning up trash and invasive species, and researching the effects of climate change on our desert.

The University of California Riverside (UCR) Center for Conservation Biology is conducting a number of research programs to study the impact of humans on the environment and the biodiversity of the valley and surrounding mountains. The questions UCR is addressing range from the impacts of habitat fragmentation, invasive non-native species, habitat disturbance, and climate change.

In order to conduct these long-term vulnerability assessments, governmental and academic organizations utilize citizen scientists organized and trained through FODM to help collect field data. During most weeks throughout the winter and spring, teams of FODM members and staff from UCR perform plant surveys on preselected trails. Conditions surrounding sentinel 'tagged' plants are recorded as outlined below.

I have volunteered and continue to volunteer at a number of these events and have met many amazing and knowledgeable people along the way. It's great to see that on any given week upwards of 20 volunteers participated in this program.

The teams hiking to the tagged sentinel plants using GPS coordinates.

Surveying the area and counting the 'plants of interest' in the 20 meter circumference around the sentinel plant. After participating for several weeks and becoming familiar with the 'plants of interest' I was given the important task of counting the plants of interest.

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