The California State University Desert Studies Consortium is holding its 26th annual Desert Symposium at the CSU’s Desert Studies Center facility at Zzyzx, Calif. from Friday to Monday.
The theme for the symposium is “Life in the Desert: Adaptations to Environmental Extremes,” a topic that affects the wildlife in the Zzyzx area.
It will be hosted by William Presch, Ph.D., a professor of zoology at Cal State Fullerton, and Robert Reynolds, a steering committee member of the symposium.
“(The) proceeding theme was chosen to compare past and current species and habitats that have and are currently responding to change in climatic conditions,” said Reynolds.
The symposium organizers look particularly for presentations on current research in archaeology, history, paleontology, geology, ecology, biological sciences and environmental issues in relation to the theme for each year.
The two-day event will feature about 30 speakers, with each presentation lasting approximately 15 minutes. Saturday night there will be a posters presentation. The topics will vary from the presentation of a nearly complete North American beaver skull found in Mexico to information on the quantification of the old highway erosion in Death Valley, Calif.
Along with the presentations, there will be field trips throughout the weekend.
The symposium holds great meaning for David K. Lynch of the United States Geological Survey, who is also a steering committee member for the event.
“My involvement began in 2007 after I gave a talk about the San Andreas Fault. At the time, I really enjoyed the pleasant location and affable people. Shortly after that, I was asked to join the steering committee,” said Lynch. “Attending the Desert Symposium is one of the highlights of my year.”
Lynch is also scheduled to give the keynote speech on “Color and Light in Nature,” which is all about the naked eye optical phenomena in nature, such as rainbows, haloes and mirages.
The symposium is also a place for students to get the chance to meet scientists and network.
“Professional and amateur scientists mix easily and the Desert Symposium is an excellent place for students to work on their presentation skills in front of an audience of interested naturalists,” Lynch said.
Another speaker at the symposium will be Jeff Lovich, Ph.D., steering committee member and USGS research ecologist.
Lovich has a longstanding history with the symposium and looks forward to continuing that this year. Since his first visit in the early 1990s, Lovich enjoys the people that attend each year, the venue and the diversity of talks presented.
This year, he will discuss the possible effects of climate change on desert tortoises, along with his group of technicians who will also lead a new discussion.
“My technicians will be talking about climate effects on clutch production in desert tortoises,” said Lovich.
The symposium will also include the annual Bob and Bobbe Adams Student Paper/Poster Award, which is awarded to an outstanding student presentation or poster at the banquet. The winner receives $50.
Abstracts of the proceedings and a field trip guide will be published for the public to see after the presentations.
Following the symposium will be a field trip with its own theme, “Search for the Pliocene: Southern Exposures.” The discussion and trip will focus on the Pliocene Epoch, a shrinking geological time period with few outcrops.
The symposium’s field trip also includes exploration of the “stratigraphic sections of the eastern Transverse Ranges, southwestern Mojave Desert and Salton trough to examine tectonic development of these provinces,” according to the symposium registration form.
The Desert Studies Consortium, which plays host to the event, was established in 1976 and is operated by seven CSU campuses, one of which is CSUF.