Why the Desert Botanical Garden is studying urban saguaros

During the summer of 2020, the Phoenix metro area recorded its hottest summer ever. Unable to move, the effects of these record temperatures have affected the most vulnerable: the plants. There have been numerous reports of saguaros losing weapons or falling throughout the valley. Why did this happen? Was it related to climate change? Are we going to end up losing all our urban saguaros? The Garden has received numerous media inquiries seeking answers.

Saguaros are highly valued in Arizona, and the possibility of losing them is a deep concern for many people.

Several theories have been discussed, mostly related to the increasing heat and lack of rain. The Garden’s research service has tried to answer as best it can. However, there is not enough research to fully understand what is happening with these iconic plants, and whether this event is directly linked to climate change. We don’t even know if the number of lost saguaros is a real problem or just a few incidents. If there is a problem and saguaros die, what can we do to save them?

Garden researchers want to answer these questions and bring better answers to the community. We have developed the Saguaro Project, where we will locate and count saguaros in the Phoenix area and assess their general size, age and health through the Saguaro Census. Using existing social networks and online platforms developed by our team and collaborators (Metro Phoenix EcoFlora and Save Our Saguaros), we want to involve the community in assembling the Phoenix Saguaro database. This will include location information and photos of factories in the city, so that we can monitor them in the future. By working with Desert Botanical Garden, people can contribute to a real community science project.

Comments are closed.