Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Life Sciences

First Committee Member

Scott R. Abella

Second Committee Member

Stanley D. Smith

Third Committee Member

LLoyd R. Stark

Fourth Committee Member

Steven Clarke

Number of Pages



For land managers, reliable estimates of soil seed banks, and more specifically, change in seed banks over time, provide insight into the restoration and regeneration potential of the landscape, site history and disturbance mapping, and, invasive and rare plant management. To understand the intricacies of desert soil seed banks in relation to aboveground vegetation change, my research evaluated long-term change in soil seed banks, fertile islands, and plant communities of conservation-priority gypsum rare plant habitat of the eastern Mojave Desert. Research found significant spatial and temporal differences in seed bank composition and density over an 11-year period; however, the gypsum aboveground communities nevertheless maintain strong spatiotemporal patterns.

This study also explored two related topics in order to support land managers in vulnerable desert landscapes from a conservation and restoration standpoint. The rare species Arctomecon californica occupies gypsum habitat and is considered critically endangered by the state of Nevada and is provided federal protection under the Clark County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan. Results are the first to demonstrate the significant effect of cold stratification on A. californica seed germination in a laboratory setting providing a crucial step-forward in ecology of the species.

The final component of this research involves the use of traditional and contemporary scientific illustration techniques to provide a novel identification tool for Mojave Desert seeds and young germinates. This guide will not only assist in future soil seed bank analysis and field surveys but could also be used as an important teaching and outreach tool for students.


Germination; Gypsum; Mojave; Rare plants; Scientific illustration; Seed banks


Environmental Sciences | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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