Smoke season is replacing the monsoon season

My trip was to be three nights long, combining camping and photography, and I longed... Read more


Hummingbirds pollinate claret cup cactus

A profound drought has delayed spring in the southwest, and claret cup is one of the first cacti to flower in spring. Read more


Mat saltbush thrives on Mancos Shale

Plant communities are usually nicknamed for the most dominant species, such as a ponderosa pine community or a pinyon-juniper woodland. Mat saltbush, also called matscale, communities live on such harsh soils that they are sometimes the only species in in the community. Read more


We live in the dawn of the Anthropocene

The Anthropocene epoch is a unit of geological time in which humans exert a dominant influence on climate and the environment, but we have not reached consensus on its starting point. Read more


Following dinosaurs along Colorado's Purgatoire River

More than 1,500 fossil footprints allow you to follow dinosaurs as they walked along a lakeshore 150 million years ago. The dinosaur tracksite, the largest in North America, is beside the Purgatoire River in Picketwire Canyon south of La Junta. Read more


Silky phacelia is a handsome wildflower with a special talent

On soils containing gold, silky phacelia is protected by gold, cyanide and even some arsenic. On soils devoid of gold, it is protected by cyanide. Read more


The paradox of toxic nectar and pollen in death camas

Some species of plant, such as death camas, include toxins in nectar and pollen, presenting a bedeviling paradox. Why attract pollinators and then kill them? Read more


Native Americans domesticated turkeys

Analyses of DNA from turkey bones at archeological sites and from modern samples of wild turkeys throughout their range indicate that the domesticated birds in Central Mexico and the domesticated birds from the Southwest are distinctly different. Read more


Tumbleweeds, despised icons of the West

Although tumbleweeds were familiar icons of the West, they were not native to the West, nor were they growing around the early western towns when they were established. Read more


Gritty plants deter herbivores

A comparison of the control and reduced sand leaves showed that removing sand doubled the damage by a variety of insect and snail herbivores. Leaves with added sand had less damage than the control group. Clearly, snail and insect herbivory is reduced by increasing levels of sand on leaves and stems. Read more


Recreational shooting is incompatible with the purposes of Colorado wilderness areas

It is comfortable to expect that wilderness areas will remain unchanged forever, but that is a naïve notion inappropriate to our times. Read more


Antelope horns milkweeds grow in intermittent streambeds on the Colorado Plateau

Last May, I went to the Maze District in Canyonlands National Park to enjoy its unique scenery unusual natural history. On two epic hikes, we encountered a somewhat rare species of milkweed that has turned out to be unusual. Read more