Presentation Title

Mapping prickly pear cactus along the riverbed of Eaton Canyon

Faculty Mentor

Rhea Presiado

Start Date

17-11-2018 3:00 PM

End Date

17-11-2018 5:00 PM

Location

CREVELING 65

Session

POSTER 3

Type of Presentation

Poster

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

Introduction:

The San Gabriel Mountains in California are home to a diverse selection of creatures and plant life. Eaton Canyon in particular is made up of several different life zones: Riparian, oak woodland, chaparral, and the pine forest life zone. Oak trees and cacti are both seen along different points of the Eaton Canyon hiking trail. Specifically on the trail is the Opuntia most commonly known as the prickly pear cactus, a xerophytic plant that can produce about 200-300 species and mainly grows in arid and semiarid zones. Although traditionally appreciated for its pharmacological properties by the Tongva, the cacti pear is hardly recognized as medicine now because of the lack information scientists have to prove its medical uses (Chauhan 2010). Early historic data indicated that the Native Americans relied on the prickly pear cactus for food, medicine, a source for needles, containers, and water( Prudence 2003). The thorns of the prickly pears have a different numbers of areoles, a specialized axillary or lateral bud, a short shoot or branch that produce spines and hairs and can produce new stems, and flowers, or fruits, which allow for the reproduction of more plants (Chauhan 2010). Typically, the prickly-pear cactus of Southern California prefers to grow with other chaparral shrubbery due to its ability to sustain dry conditions (Parfitt 2012); Recently however, the Coastal Prickly Pear Cacti have become abnormally close to what is considered the riparian life zone. One can argue that the cacti began to grow in these areas due to the long drought in Southern California. Due to these shifts in the ecosystem, the Coastal Prickly Pear cacti have now begun growing on the raised terraces of dried river beds. The purpose of this research project is to uncover just how many of these cacti are now growing in riverbeds, and to question whether there are now more cacti by the river compared to their designated habitat.

Summary of research results to be presented

Methods:

The group’s priority will be mapping the cacti along the dried riverbed of the Eaton Canyon wash, starting at the dried bed near the Eaton Canyon Nature Center. For this experiment the group will be using the following tools: a GPS, a measuring tape, meter sticks, flags, and gloves. The GPS will be used for mapping each cactus in the riparian zone along the wash. The measuring tape and meter sticks will help the group determine the measurements of each cactus to determine specific details. The flags will be used as markers so there is no overlap, and to prevent mapping the same cactus twice. Lastly, the gloves are a safety precaution as cacti have sharp blades that could puncture exposed parts of the body. The experiment will begin with the observation of each cactus. The group will measure the height, and the number of paddles of each prickly pear cactus in order to approximate its age. Along will this the group will also be taking note on the number of prickly pears on the cacti. The fruit should be easy to identify; based on the time of year, the fruit will likely be bright red. The experiment will also include the counting of the fruits that have fallen near or around each cactus, for accuracy and for insight on the cacti’s seed dispersion. Each pear from the cactus contains about 50 seeds that can possibly sprout into a new plant. Thus counting the fallen fruit will allow the group to theorize as to how the cacti began growing on the raised terraces. After inputting the measurements, the group will then map each cactus with the use of a GPS, revealing coordinates we can then map. After the field work is complete, the results will be furthered analyzed on a computer. With this data the group will reveal the reasons as to why the cacti are located in riparian life zones.

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Nov 17th, 3:00 PM Nov 17th, 5:00 PM

Mapping prickly pear cactus along the riverbed of Eaton Canyon

CREVELING 65

Introduction:

The San Gabriel Mountains in California are home to a diverse selection of creatures and plant life. Eaton Canyon in particular is made up of several different life zones: Riparian, oak woodland, chaparral, and the pine forest life zone. Oak trees and cacti are both seen along different points of the Eaton Canyon hiking trail. Specifically on the trail is the Opuntia most commonly known as the prickly pear cactus, a xerophytic plant that can produce about 200-300 species and mainly grows in arid and semiarid zones. Although traditionally appreciated for its pharmacological properties by the Tongva, the cacti pear is hardly recognized as medicine now because of the lack information scientists have to prove its medical uses (Chauhan 2010). Early historic data indicated that the Native Americans relied on the prickly pear cactus for food, medicine, a source for needles, containers, and water( Prudence 2003). The thorns of the prickly pears have a different numbers of areoles, a specialized axillary or lateral bud, a short shoot or branch that produce spines and hairs and can produce new stems, and flowers, or fruits, which allow for the reproduction of more plants (Chauhan 2010). Typically, the prickly-pear cactus of Southern California prefers to grow with other chaparral shrubbery due to its ability to sustain dry conditions (Parfitt 2012); Recently however, the Coastal Prickly Pear Cacti have become abnormally close to what is considered the riparian life zone. One can argue that the cacti began to grow in these areas due to the long drought in Southern California. Due to these shifts in the ecosystem, the Coastal Prickly Pear cacti have now begun growing on the raised terraces of dried river beds. The purpose of this research project is to uncover just how many of these cacti are now growing in riverbeds, and to question whether there are now more cacti by the river compared to their designated habitat.