Ex Situ conservation at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

For 70 years, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has been helping people understand, appreciate, and conserve the Sonoran Desert. The Desert Museum’s collections department supports the conservation of imperiled species and ecosystems in the region. We serve as an important repository and steward for several rare, threatened, and endangered plant species including Abutilon parishii, Amsonia kearneyana, Coryphantha robbinsorum, Echinocactus horizonthalonius var. nicholii, and Eryngium sparganophyllum. This year, our conservation work has expanded to include the stewardship of Quercus ajoensis, a rare oak species thought to be limited to the canyons of upland Sonoran Desert scrub near the international border with Mexico. Targeted collecting efforts, in partnership with the Huntington and UC Davis Arboretum, will improve the representation of wild germplasm in ex situ collections. We are also establishing a conservation research program that will focus on crop wild relatives. This effort aims to bring together experts, botanical gardens, and conservation practitioners to develop conservation strategies for arid-adapted crop wild relatives native to the region.