Okay so since all I can think about right now is my upcoming test for Plant Ecology, I figured I would start this blog talking about the life-zones concept in Arizona (and everywhere really).
Basically, Arizona has a lot of plant and animal diversity. In one study by Kearney and Peebles (source unknown) there were roughly 6.7 times more species in Arizona per unit area than in the Eastern United States. They found that Arizona was found to have about 3,370 plant species in 114,000 square miles. The North/South Gradient; the East-West Gradient and the Elevation Gradients all play major roles in forming the great diversity of Arizona.
This makes Arizona an awesome place to study plants in different zones without having to go too far. In fact C. Hart Merriam, was one of the first ecologists from the late 1800s. He developed the concept of life-zones using the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff AZ and the Sonoran desert.
Are there distinct life zones in your area? Play a game to find the last (or first) tree in different life-zones. Bring a GPS or use your phone to mark the elevation and exact location. Come back in a few years to see if the boundary has changed.
Road trip game: I use to play a game (really just an excuse to hit my sister) on road trips you can punch for “first tree or sighting of a new species.”