Have you heard the word “biodiversity”? For the Desert Botanical Garden, biodiversity is a touchstone for what we do. This word refers to all the forms of life on the planet, from the many different forms of plants and animals, the communities that species form, and even the genes that make each and every one of us what we are. We at the Desert Botanical Garden have a commitment to conserve the biodiversity of the desert regions of North America, with an emphasis on the Southwestern United States.
It’s a big job! Why are we working so hard?
The Convention on Biological Diversity states it very well:
“Protecting biodiversity is in our self-interest. Biological resources are the pillars upon which we build civilizations. Nature's products support such diverse industries as agriculture, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper, horticulture, construction and waste treatment. The loss of biodiversity threatens our food supplies, opportunities for recreation and tourism, and sources of wood, medicines and energy. It also interferes with essential ecological functions.”
The Central Arizona Conservation Alliance is a partnership of scientists, land managers, educators, community members, and other conservation-based non-profit organizations focused on the sustainability of the mountain parks and preserve system in and around the Phoenix metro area. The Alliance's vision is a sustainable preserve system that supports healthy ecosystems and provides beautiful, safe open spaces for recreation, education, and relaxation. Its mission is to foster community engagement in the study, restoration, and promotion of our mountain parks and preserves.
For more information about the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance, please visit mymountainparks.org
The Garden is somewhat unique in that we are one of a handful of gardens having onsite molecular labs in which to conduct genetic research. Many of the molecular projects we work on involve conservation genetics, the study of genetic diversity in populations of rare species.
Genetic diversity underlies all biological diversity and plays a vital role in the long-term persistence of species. In fact, genetic diversity is recognized by the international Convention on Biological Diversity as one of the three main types of biodiversity that are to be priorities for conservation. Studying genetic diversity can help us make better conservation plans by shedding light on difficult aspect of species biology and by identifying conservation priorities. Here at the Garden, we are using conservation genetic tools such as DNA fingerprinting, microsatellites, and DNA sequencing to learn more about a number of rare plant species. By integrating this genetic information with other types of studies, we are identifying new species from the Grand Canyon, determining correct species identities for cacti, Phlox, and other desert species, and informing reintroduction efforts for endangered plant species.
The Desert Botanical Garden is a founding member of the Center for Plant Conservation (CPC), a national consortium of 36 botanical gardens and arboreta dedicated to saving America's endangered plants. In 1987 the Desert Botanical Garden was selected to serve as the Southwest regional garden. The southwestern region of the CPC consists primarily of Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave. deserts, extending from southeastern California, across southern Arizona to southwestern New Mexico and western Texas.