Contribution starting at $2,325
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7 days ($332 per day) Includes accommodations, food, and all related research costs
Climate Change

Saving Joshua Tree's Desert Species

Location
Joshua Tree National Park, United States Map it
Lead Scientist
Activity Level
Moderate
Accommodations
Research Station
Internet access
Food
Shared meals
Blue sky at Joshua Tree National Park
Volunteers collecting data at Joshua Tree National Park
Volunteers measuring plots of land
Earthwatch Volunteers looking at a compass
Volunteers looking through binoculars at Joshua Tree National Park
Tortoise at Joshua Tree National Park
Sunset at Joshua Tree National Park
Blue sky at Joshua Tree National Park
Volunteers collecting data at Joshua Tree National Park
Volunteers measuring plots of land
Earthwatch Volunteers looking at a compass
Volunteers looking through binoculars at Joshua Tree National Park
Tortoise at Joshua Tree National Park
Sunset at Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua trees live for hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of years in one of the U.S.’s most extreme climates: the Mojave Desert. But can they survive climate change?


Volunteer measuring plant life in the desert

Climate change could dramatically reshape the fate of the Joshua tree. One model predicts that, if temperatures rise at the predicted rate, this iconic tree will disappear from 90% of its current range in California’s Joshua Tree National Park by the end of the century. Extinction for this tree—and many other desert species—is a real possibility.

Help scientists understand and preserve the fragile Mojave Desert by joining Joshua Tree National Park’s first long-term monitoring project. Hike among stunning rock formations as you identify and measure plants, including pinyon pines, junipers, and, of course, Joshua trees. You’ll also document sightings of the park’s resident reptiles, such as iguanas and desert tortoises, and birds, such as wrens and quails.

Under the expert guidance of two researchers with a combined 50 years of experience in the field, you’ll have the chance to interpret and shape the future of one of the natural world’s most precious places.

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A Typical Itinerary

  • DAY 1    Arrive in Palm Springs, travel to field station
  • DAY 2-6   Hike to monitor desert plants, trap and release reptiles and amphibians, look for birds and mammals, photo identification of animals
  • DAY 7   Departure

 

HOW WILL YOU HELP

Lots of people visit Joshua Tree National Park, but you will experience it as none of them do: off the beaten path with an expert team of researchers. As part of the team, you will:
Volunteer studying vegetation in Joshua Tree National Park
Hike to monitor desert vegetation
The researchers will drive as close as possible to one of the plots they’ve set up around the park, and you’ll hike the rest of the distance (for a total of three to five miles a day of hiking). Once at the plot, you will identify each plant species, height, width, condition, and a host of other data points.
Volunteer releasing a specimen at Joshua Tree National Park
Trap, record, and release reptiles and amphibians

You’ll hike to pitfall traps—holes dug in the ground that little creatures fall into and can’t climb out of—and record data on the lizards or other critters you find inside.

Volunteers exploring the desert for wildlife
Explore the desert for birds and larger animals

As you traverse the park, you’ll document sightings of the park’s resident birds, such as wrens and quails, and any other larger animals you might see.

Field conditions and research needs can lead to changes in the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

FEEDBACK & QUESTIONS

5 Reviews on this Expedition

If you have been on this expedition, others considering attending would love to hear about your experience.
Lowell Ray Watkins | September 27, 2019
Wow, you would think that after participating in eleven teams at Joshua Tree we would have seen it all! Not a chance, both teams 3 & 4 this year set new records in field work completed and the desert itself produced new surprises: Our first stay at the Dr. Luckie Study Center, our first tarantula and Zoned Tail Hawk, some of the most impressive meals imaginable on a field expedition, a change over in some staff that went smoothly and efficiently, our first and second completed trips to the Coxcomb Mountains plots, new survey protocols, the list goes on and on. We are now booked for teams 1 & 2 of 2020 and four days after returning home we can hardly wait.
Roger Funston | May 4, 2018
If you are looking for a field biology experience, this is the expedition for you. April is a great time to experience the desert. Staff is very enthusiastic and are great trainers. Great food and accommodations. Great evening presentations. Great time in the field with volunteers who are passionate about the environment. PI does a great job discussing why the work is important and showing how the data collected contributes to answering research questions. The desert is a fascinating place. Work locations are moved to higher or lower elevations so that field temperatures stay in the mid-70s. A wonderful field experience with great staff and volunteers.
George Thornton | May 3, 2018
Off the road and beyond the pavement and boulders you begin to feel the pulse of Joshua Tree. The scitter of lizards, subtlety of the interplay of life, adaptations and accommodations of life that hold lessons for all of us. Our strength and confidence grew each day as we were revitalized by the experience.

Have a question?

If your question is not answered by one of our FAQs, please reach out to us and we will answer your question as soon as we can.

Supported stories

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