Floristic Inventory of Wildfire affect Areas of the Sonoran Desert

The objective of my research is to evaluate the effects of wildfire on plants by conducting a flora. Documenting biodiversity via a flora in this way is the first step to understanding natural resources and it is vital as ecosystems change rapidly. The Sonoran Desert is not historically fire adapted, but a combination of drought and increased fuels from the spread of non-native plants has created a situation where fire is becoming routine. My floristic research focuses on the 2021 Telegraph Wildfire which burned more than 180,000 acres, about 29,500 acres of which occurred in the Arizona Upland Subdivision of the Sonoran Desert. I document the occurrence of vascular plants within burned and unburned areas of the study site by vouchering specimens and collecting associated data. Comparisons of the two inventories will create baseline data on the early stages of succession following wildfire disturbance. Analysis will be done with Access and R. Preliminary results indicate that species composition of annuals, short lived perennials, and some larger woody species is similar inside and outside of the burn. However, observational data shows mortality of succulent species and some woody species and suggests that a decline in these populations is occurring. New data on succession following fire will help inform decision-making processes related to conservation and restoration of plants and animals while augmenting herbaria collections. Though plot data has been published on wildfire in the Sonoran Desert, a flora comparing burned to unburned areas has not, to my knowledge, been done. My research will provide a unique perspective on wildfire and could inspire other creative use of floristic data.