In The Land of the Madrean Archipelago

Posted on April 30, 2015 by Borderlands Restoration in Life in the Borderlands

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In Patagonia, we live tucked between Apachian Valleys and Low Hills (79a) (a transition zone between the Sonoran Desert ecoregion and the Madrean Archipelago), along the Lower Madrean Woodlands (79b) of the Patagonia and Santa Rita Mountains, and aside the Madrean Basin Grasslands (79e) of the Sonoita Plains and San Rafael Valley. Ecological poetry and artistic mapping is a way scientists can spatially understand how plants & animals come together to define a place.

Looking at the map, you see that the Madrean Archipelago (khaki, 81) sneaks up from Mexico, and is surrounded by the Sonoran Desert’s Basin & Range (tan, 79), the Arizona/New Mexican Mountains (green, 23), and the Chihuahua Desert (peach, 24) is not  far away.

The Apachian Valleys and Low Hills are a desert scrub community of Creosote, Yucca, Ocotillo, Grama grasses, very similar to the nearby Chihuahuan Basins, but the difference is that our home receives more monsoonal rain, enough rain to make a difference in the types of plants and animals that can live here.

The Madrean Woodlands are the land of the oaks, where riparian areas of the majestic Cottonwood Gallery Forest flow into the savannah, hosting a rich diversity of life, including neotropical birds and many sensitive, threatened and even endangered species. The Cottonwood Gallery Forest is at risk of being lost as erosion causes water levels to sink below roots. Borderlands Restoration works to slow, spread & sink water to build soils and support biological diversity.

When was the last time you wondered into the grasslands of Southeast Arizona? Did you know these habitats are some of the best preserved native grasslands in the U.S.? The grasslands here are crucial wildlife corridors that are in danger of becoming fragmented as ranch lands are divided and sold. Check out the Wildlife Corridor project, an experiment in land management that seeks to protect linkages and open space.

In the land of the Madrean Archipelago, where oceans of prairie grass are surrounded by mountainous islands, habitats are woven together in a mosaic that defines a life so magical, it seems something from a fairy tale.

The map comes from the EPA level iv ecoregion analysis, follow the link for more fun with maps.

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