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Summary, synthesis, and significance

January 1, 2013

The initial habitat suitability model estimates pre‐European suitable habitat of the Mohave ground squirrel (MGS, Xerospermophilus mohavensis) covering 19,023 km2. Impact scenarios predicted that between 10 percent and 16 percent of suitable habitat has been lost to historical human disturbances, and up to an additional 10 percent may be affected by renewable energy development in the near future. These figures are the result of analyses conducted solely on public lands. State and private lands in the region also have pending proposals for renewable energy on 260 km2, and an additional 3,500 km2 may be available for renewable energy. The sum of potential habitat disturbance on public, State, and private lands could equal up to a quarter of historic suitable habitat from pre‐European settlement levels.  

While the analyses conducted here consider direct impacts from the footprint of renewable energy and associated transmission corridors, there are many indirect sources of environmental disturbance related to renewable energy development (Lovich and Ennen 2011). Some of those potentially important to the MGS include: increased fugitive dust and the release of chemicals such as dust suppressants, insulating fluids, and herbicides throughout the operational life of facilities, auditory interference from the sound and vibrations of turbines, increases in predators and invasive species that further alter system processes, and changes in surface flow of water that also influence vegetation that is important in these habitats. However, there is little research in the broader context of these topics for the Mojave Desert ecosystem, and less, if any, about the MGS.  

Publication Year 2013
Title Summary, synthesis, and significance
Authors Todd C. Esque, Kenneth E. Nussear, Richard D. Inman, Marjorie D. Matocq, Peter J. Weisberg, Thomas E. Dilts, Phillip Leitner
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70124005
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center