Read the full story in Smithsonian Magazine.
Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, resurveyed sites throughout the Mojave Desert that were originally studied at the turn of the 20th century by Joseph Grinnell, a biologist known for his meticulous field research throughout California. The surveys were conducted as part of a larger effort to recreate Grinnell’s research in order to evaluate the ecological changes between his time and ours. Using the same methods that Grinnell and his team employed nearly a century ago, the surveys showed that the 61 sites in the Mojave lost on average 43 percent of their species. The research found that 39 of the 135 breeding bird species studied were less likely to be found at a given site today than 100 years ago.