Photo  by Cathy Mullan

Photograph taken at Mesquite Wash, eastern Maricopa Co., Arizona, November 2002.

Where there is permanent water at the surface, or sometimes just a few feet below ground, a gallery of water dependant trees and other vegetation can develop. This is the Sonoran Desert's rarest and most precious habitat, ever the more so since most of the original riparian habitat has long since dried up due to flood control and irrigation project dams and to over-pumping of ground water.

These corridors of moisture and shade are vital to the movement and survival of virtually all wildlife species. Neotropical birds use these on the north and south journeys. Deer, bobcats and javelina find water to drink. And dozens of endangered fish species inhabit permanent pools.

Many of our most impresive trees grow adjacent to desert riparian streams.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-03