2021 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Lisa Meierotto


Endangered species in the United States are facing many stressors that increasingly put them at risk for extinction. The Sonoran Desert region is home to the most biologically diverse desert in the United States and some of the species which live there include the ferruginous pygmy owl, desert bighorn sheep, and ocelots. These species are experiencing declining population trends and we set out to identify the largest contributors to these population declines. A review of the available scientific and peer-reviewed literature, as well as interviews with biologists, specialists, and conservationists in the Sonoran Desert region, there are indications population decline can be attributed to social, political, and ecological factors. Stressors may include changing climate and climate patterns, the lack of enforceable policy protection from human disturbance, land use change, and land cover change. These stressors are all independently problematic for endangered species in the area, but when the species are already being harmed from habitat fragmentation due to the U.S.-Mexico border wall, stressors like climate pressures act synergistically. The future success of these endangered species depends on our ability to limit these stressors and the sooner it happens the more likely their survival becomes. By comparing the population management for the ferruginous pygmy owl, desert bighorn sheep, and ocelot, the accuracy of management methods can be observed and can assist the future of these endangered animal populations.



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