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Ecology: Death Valley National Park

Death Valley Ecosystems

photo looking out from Mosaic Canyon

An ecosystem is how it all works together. The geology of region provide for the plants, which provide for the animals that eat the plants and animals that eat these animals, all of which have adapted to the environment in which they live. Ecosystems may not be defined by hard boundaries, a line in the sand so to speak. They could end abruptly according to dramatic changes in terrain or composition of the soil, but, more often than not they may have a transition from one to the other. These transitions are called ecotones. Ecotones may include plant and animal species indicative of one or both ecosystems. These ecotones may sometimes be considered ecosystems in themselves.

Natural features & ecosystems include:

Faults & Geologic Formations

Faulting is the one of the main reasons Death Valley exists. Movement along faults allow the mountains to ...

Weather and Climate

Death Valley is famous as the hottest and driest place in North America. Summer temperatures often top ...


Despite its reputation as a lifeless wasteland, Death Valley National Park contains a great diversity of ...


Despite those extremes it is home to a diverse amount of wildlife species: 56 mammals, 36 reptiles, ...

Springs and Seeps

Wetland and riparian areas have a unique scientific value. The Death Valley / Ash Meadows area is a classic example of ...


The landscape is so varied and extreme, one cannot help to wonder what events ...

Sand Dunes

For dunes to exist there must be a source of sand, prevailing winds to ...

Salt Flats

The salt flats in Badwater Basin cover nearly 200 square miles, among the largest ...

Below Sea Level

To have exposed land below sea level, an extremely dry climate is ...

Source - National Park Service

Geomorphic Setting

Basin and Range

The province is characterized by interior drainage with lakes and playas, and the typical horst and graben structure.

General Ecological Settings

Eco-subsection: Mojave Desert:

This section is the hot part of the Basin and ranges from the southern end of the Sierra Nevada and the north-northeastern side of the Transverse Ranges to Nevada and Arizona.

    Death Valley

    the alluvial plain of Death Valley, from Sand Spring south-southeast to the drainage divide between Death Valley and Silurian Valley.

    Funeral Mountains - Greenwater Valley

    the Funeral Mountains, Black Mountains, Greenwater Range, Resting Spring Range, and Nopah Range between Death Valley and the Amargosa Desert and Pahrump Valley.

Eco-subsection: Southern Great Basin:

southern Great Basin in the Basin and Range geomorphic province.

    Panamint Range

    the Panamint Mountains, which are between Panamint Valley and Death Valley.

Ecosystems and Habitats

Shrub Dominated

    Desert Wash

    Desert Wash habitats are characterized by the presence of arborescent, often spiny, shrubs generally associated with ...

    Desert Scrub

    Desert Scrub habitats typically are open, scattered assemblages of broadleaved evergreen or deciduous ...

Tree Dominated

    Desert Riparian

    Desert Riparian habitats are characterized as dense groves of low, shrublike trees or tall shrubs ...


    Habitat. Pinyon-juniper habitat generally occurs at middle elevations adjoining a number of other wildlife habitats. At lower elevations, pinyon-juniper may interface with habitats such as Joshua tree and desert scrub.

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These items are historical in scope and are intended for educational purposes only; they are not meant as an aid for travel planning.
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