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Desert bighorn sheep in the American Southwest have a naturally fragmented distribution, but this fragmentation has been increased by large highways, canals, and other human-made barriers. Renewable energy developments in the Mojave Desert of California may, if inappropriately located, disrupt important connections among populations. We used landscape genetics, network analysis, and extensive fieldwork to map high-gene flow links among existing populations and determine links that should be restored given disruption by barriers. This work has informed decisions about the appropriate size and location of renewable energy developments in the Mojave, influencing discussions between California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service about limiting effects of such developments on sensitive wildlife such as desert bighorn sheep.
Did you know? Some desert bighorn sheep can live without consistent access to surface water, although their populations do much better when they do have some access.
Epps et al. 2004 (Conservation Biology), 2005 (Ecology Letters), 2007 (Applied Ecology), 2010 (Journal of Wildlife Management), Creech et al. 2014 (Landscape Ecology), Creech et al. 2016 (Journal of Arid Environments), Flesch et al. 2010 (Conservation Biology), Sawyer et al. 2012 (Applied Ecology), Creech et al. 2016 (PLoSOne), Epps et al. 2016 (Proceedings of the Death Valley Natural History Conference), Epps et al. 2016 (Mojave Science News)