Mojave Desert Ecoregional Assessment
The Mojave Desert harbors distinctive and extraordinarily rich biological diversity. Equally extraordinary is the fact that large portions of the Mojave remain mostly undisturbed by human activities and constitute one of the last great wilderness areas in the United States. The relative lack of disturbance is of great importance, because the Mojave’s arid climate, delicate soils, and slow pace of ecological succession render it exceedingly fragile and slow to recover when disturbed. Protecting these intact landscapes will be essential if the full complement of native species and communities are to persist into the future. Development pressures continue to mount, however, and today the Mojave is at a crossroads. This ecoregional assessment characterizes the distribution of biodiversity conservation values across the Mojave Desert, to help inform decision making regarding regional land-use and conservation investment.
This assessment identifies areas that are important for the continued survival of the full suite of the Mojave’s biological diversity. As such it focuses on areas that support a broad range of rare and common species, as well as areas that remain relatively undisturbed. Given this focus, it is important to note that it is intended to complement—not replace or supersede—other biodiversity assessments and models (e.g., habitat conservation plans, recovery plans) that focus more specifically on the recovery of a single species, a more limited number of focal species, or the conservation of a smaller geographic area. Also, because of the scale and resolution of this analysis, finer-scale and site-specific assessments will be necessary for decision making regarding specific projects or site-scale planning.