ENP 15.3 Saguaro: Changing Biodiversity and Tips From a Park Ranger
06/04/2019Photo: Saguaro National Park biologist Don SwannDon Swann, a biologist who has worked at Saguaro National Park for over twenty years, joins Danielle to discuss the evolution of the biodiversity within Saguaro National Park. They discuss how the environment and biodiversity has changed within the national park overtime and how he both teaches and engages the community to investigate change with him as citizen scientists.
Photo: Don Swann hiking in Saguaro National Park
Discussion includes the following:
Photo: Saguaro cacti in Saguaro National ParkTips for your Travels:
- Don Swann discusses his biology background and his experience with Saguaro (3:05)
- How visitors, primarily in Tucson, can become “citizen scientists” to help research in Saguaro National Park (3:45)
- How do citizen scientists help with biodiversity research of the signature Saguaro cacti? (4:11)
- What types of changes have occurred in the Saguaro National Park over time? (5:20)
- How the loss of trees have impacted the Saguaro signature cacti (6:00)
- Interesting facts about the saguaro cacti (6:50)
- The legacy of National Parks and why it is important to visit (8:20)
- The impact of climate change on Saguaro (9:28)
- What adaptations do species have to survive in a desert climate (11:20)
- How environmental conditions led to a beautiful wildflower superbloom in Saguaro (12:00)
- Don’s favorite hikes, including child-friendly hikes (14:58)
- Recommendations for hikes with older children (18:28)
- The most fascinating aspects of the saguaro cactus (19:10)
- Don’s favorite plant and/or animal (besides the cactus) (21:23)
- Other rare and/or endangered species in Saguaro (23:00)
- The best time and season to visit the park (25:20)
- Don’s favorite Saguaro National Park experiences (27:30)
- Pair the following tips with the sample itineraries from our recent family adventure to make the most of your Saguaro National Park visit:
- Always check the weather!
- Come during the summer for the biodiversity, but be wary of the heat!
- Allow for extended time to complete more challenging “elevation” hikes in Saguaro.
- Carry more water than you think you need!
- If traveling in the summer, map your hikes so you finish early - before 9am! - and save trips to visitors centers for midday when the temperatures climb
- Winter is an amazing time for backcountry camping
- November through April are the busiest months and parking is limited so consider coming later in the day and plan sunset hikes
- Leave your pets at home as encounters with wildlife can be deadly
- Loop drives offer great views with pull-offs for picnicking and trails for quick hikes
- The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a short drive from the park and features historic collections, live plants, and desert animals such as the javelina in a zoo-like setting
Resources from the Show:
- Visit Saguaro National Park for more information.
- Become a Patreon to continue our great journey through these beautiful parks.
- Make sure to listen to the previous episode on Saguaro National Park for more great information.
- Explore more adventures through beautiful parks.
- Contact us to tell us about your family adventures or ask a question.