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Strong westerly winds that emanate from San Gorgonio Pass, the lowest point between Palm Springs and Los Angeles, California, dominate aeolian transport in the Coachella Valley of the western Sonoran Desert. These winds deposit sand in coppice dunes that are critical habitat for several species, including the state and federally listed threatened species Uma inornata, a lizard. Although wind directions are generally defined in this valley, the wind field has complex interactions with local topography and becomes more variable with distance from the pass. Local, dominant wind directions are preserved by growth patterns of Larrea tridentata (creosote bush), a shrub characteristic of the hot North American deserts,...
In the arid and semiarid regions of North America, discrete precipitation pulses are important triggers for biological activity. The timing and magnitude of these pulses may differentially affect the activity of plants and microbes, combining to influence the C balance of desert ecosystems. Here, we evaluate how a "pulse" of water influences physiological activity in plants, soils and ecosystems, and how characteristics, such as precipitation pulse size and frequency are important controllers of biological and physical processes in arid land ecosystems. We show that pulse size regulates C balance by determining the temporal duration of activity for different components of the biota. Microbial respiration responds...