Category Archives: Environment, nature, cultures, science

I will write here about facts or about my thoughts about our natural and cultural world, and where I think it is heading.

TREKKING IN CANYON DEL MUERTO – CANYON DE CHELLY NATIONAL MONUMENT

INTRODUCTION

During the years 1966 – 1971 I was photographing car races, and from 1970 on also an Indian tribe in Venezuela. In October -November 1968 I was coverin the CAN-AM (group 7) series of races. I had photographed the penultimate race in Riverside, and I was on my way, traveling by car, to the last race in Las Vegas. While in Arizona I suppose that someone suggested that I visit the Canyon de Chelly National Monument, inside the Navajo Indian Reservation. I don’t remember where I spent the night and where I left my car; I got a ride to the unofficial “entrance” of the reserve.  I think I entered the reserve through or below barbed wires… I am not sure if it was from the Window Rock – Tsaile road or from the Tsaile – Chinle road. In the first case I would have seen the dam on the Tsaile creek and the lake; in the alternative case I would have entered Middle Trail Canyon. Glenn Rink who studied the vegetation of the reserve thinks: “I am not sure where you entered the canyons, but I’ll bet it was at Middle Trail Canyon, the small northern tributary to Canyon del Muerto.”

My thanks

to Glenn Rink who identified some of the trees and plants in these pictures.

Photos 1 – 2 were taken where I spent the night (in a tube tent -see drawing after the photographs), next to the creek. Probably some 3 to 5 hours from the road. Obviously there were oak trees besides the conifers.

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Cliffs in Canyon del Morto. Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, USA. Probably Douglas fir trees on the right side.

 

This is about where I spent the night in a tube tent. In the morning the creek was partially frozen.

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Canyon del Morto in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, USA. Morning ice on Tsaile Creek (early November).Gambel oak leaves. Gambel Oak (Quercus gambelii) FAGACEAE

 

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Canyon del Morto in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, USA. Coniferous forest. Probably Douglas fir. The fall color tree might be a Gambel oak.

 

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Canyon del Morto in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, USA. Cliffs and coniferous trees. Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Pinaceae )on the left. Probably a Pinyon pine on the right. Douglas fir against the rock.

 

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Canyon del Morto in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, USA. Cliffs and coniferous trees. Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii family: Pinaceae) (top right, agaist rock) center right: shorter ones are probably junipers, could be Rocky Mountain.

 

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USA, Arizona, Canyon de Chelly National Monument,. Mummy cave ruins of Ancient Pueblo Peoples (also called Anasazi).

 

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Canyon del Morto in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, USA. Bottom of canyon and cliffs. Cottonwoods on the left. Phragmites lining the channel on the left. The lighter colored bushes may be rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa Asteraceae)

Navajo horses.

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Horses belonging to Navajo Indians running in bottom of Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, USA. Cottonwood trees at base of cliff.

 

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Canyon del Morto in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, USA. Rocks and fall leaves against blue sky with light clouds.

 

When I reached the entrance of the Monument the ranchers were puzzled, seeing someone coming from nowhere. They asked me where I came from. I said from the road near Tsaile, initially walking down the creek bed, then following trails. They said they had never been there…

This is how I described a tube tent in a letter to my family.

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Contact for quote   or   Purchase photographs online

 

Links

Map:

Canyon de Chelly National Monument Vegetation Mapping Project – USGS-NPS

 

VASCULAR FLORA and VEGETATION CHANGE at CANYON DE CHELLY NATIONAL MONUMENT, APACHE COUNTY, ARIZONA

By Glenn Rink. Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ   (page with download link)

 

Threat of invasive species:

Cooperative Watershed Restoration Project: Tamarisk and Russian Olive Management at Canyon de Chelly National Monument. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior

THE CERRADOS (SAVANNAS) OF BRAZIL

“The Cerrado Biome is one of the world’s principal centers of biodiversity, ranked by Myers et al. (2000) as among 25 global hotspots of absolute importance for conservatin.” (Ratter, Bridgewater and Ribeiro, Chapter 2, p. 34 in Neotropical Savannas and Seasonally Dry Forests, edited by R.T. Pennington et al., 2006 – see bibliography below)

This biodiversity is disappearing fast . Much of it may already be lost forever.

After presenting in my last post some aspects of the destruction of the largest biome in Brazil, the Amazon Rainforest, I am presenting the second largest biome, the cerrado (Brazilian savannas), a ancient biome dating from the Pliocene and Pleistocene, rich in biodiversity, which is in a much worse state of destruction than the Amazon rainforest: more than 50% are irreversibly destroyed by the agribusiness (Professor Altair Sales Barbosa – text in Portuguese – translation by Google Translator is good) . As opposed to my previous post which shows the destruction of the Amazon rainforest , I will show selected facies of the cerrado in its natural state where it has been preserved, mainly in the chapadas (mountainous plateaus) where agricultural machinery cannot be used.

Cerrado “sensu stricto”.
An open woodland letting through enough light to allow the growth of a grass ground cover.

Wooded savanna (called cerrado in Brazil), end of dry season. Minas Gerais - Bahia State, Brazil. Stemless palm is Attalea geraensis.

Wooded savanna (called cerrado in Brazil), end of dry season. Minas Gerais – Bahia State, Brazil. Stemless palm is Attalea geraensis.

Cerrado (savanna or wooded savanna) showing trees with contorted trunks and branches and thick bark which acts as a protection to fire. Brazilian Highlands, Brazilian Shield, northern Goias, Brazil.

Cerrado (savanna or wooded savanna) showing trees with contorted trunks and branches and thick bark which acts as a protection to fire. Brazilian Highlands, Brazilian Shield, northern Goias, Brazil.

Vereda, a treeless grassland on seasonally waterlogged soil.

Two different ecosystems in savanna (cerrado) biome: vereda, a treeless grassland on seasonally waterlogged soil, with buriti palm (Mauritia flexuosa) along small stream; and campos rupestres, saxicolous vegetation on hilly rock outcrop. Brazilian Highlands, Goiás State, Brazil

Two different ecosystems in savanna (cerrado) biome: vereda, a treeless grassland on seasonally waterlogged soil, with buriti palm (Mauritia flexuosa) along small stream; and campos rupestres, saxicolous vegetation on hilly rock outcrop. Brazilian Highlands, Goiás State, Brazil

Vereda, a treeless grassland ecosystem on semi-waterlogged soil with stands of buriti palms (Mauritia flexuosa) in permanently wet spots. Savanna biome (called cerrado in Brazil). Grande Sertão Veredas National Park (or proximity), Minas Gerais or Bahia State, Brazil.

Vereda, a treeless grassland ecosystem on semi-waterlogged soil with stands of buriti palms (Mauritia flexuosa) in permanently wet spots. Savanna biome (called cerrado in Brazil). Grande Sertão Veredas National Park (or proximity), Minas Gerais or Bahia State, Brazil.

Forest galleries.

Savanna (cerrado) biome, Brazilian Highlands, Goiás State, Brazil: Mimosa foliolosa (Fabaceae - Leguminosae, Mimosoideae) in forest gallery of Rio Claro, in the watershed of Rio Tocantins.

Savanna (cerrado) biome, Brazilian Highlands, Goiás State, Brazil: Mimosa foliolosa (Fabaceae – Leguminosae, Mimosoideae) in forest gallery of Rio Claro, in the watershed of Rio Tocantins.

Rio Claro and its forest gallery, river in watershed or drainage basin of rio Tocantins in Brazilian Highlands (panalto Brasileiro), northern Goiás State, Brazil

Rio Claro and its forest gallery, river in watershed or drainage basin of rio Tocantins in Brazilian Highlands (panalto Brasileiro), northern Goiás State, Brazil

Tibouchina candolleana (Melastomataceae) with buriti palm (Mauritia flexuosa) in background, at fringe of forest gallery, Brazil Highlands (Brazilian shield, Planalto Brasileiro), Goias State, Brazil.

Tibouchina candolleana (Melastomataceae) with buriti palm (Mauritia flexuosa) in background, at fringe of forest gallery, Brazil Highlands (Brazilian shield, Planalto Brasileiro), Goias State, Brazil.

Vegetation on rock outcrops (saxicolous vegetation)  –  Campos Rupestres

Savanna (cerrado) biome, Brazilian Highlands, Goiás State, Brazil: vegetation on rock outcrop (saxicolous vegetation): Cactus: Pilosocereus machrisii (family Cactaceae).

Savanna (cerrado) biome, Brazilian Highlands, Goiás State, Brazil: vegetation on rock outcrop (saxicolous vegetation): Cactus: Pilosocereus machrisii (family Cactaceae).

Contorted tree, saxicolous vegetation (growing among rocks) on Pre-Cambrian rock outcrop in Brazilian Highlands, Goias State, Brazil

Contorted tree, saxicolous vegetation (growing among rocks) on Pre-Cambrian rock outcrop in Brazilian Highlands, Goias State, Brazil

Cerrado (brazilian savanna) biome: contorted tree, shrub and grass in campos rupestres (saxicolous vegetation, vegetation on rocks) ecosystem on rock outcrop: Goias, Brazilian Highlands (Brazilian shield, Planalto brasileiro), Brazil

Cerrado (brazilian savanna) biome: contorted tree, shrub and grass in campos rupestres (saxicolous vegetation, vegetation on rocks) ecosystem on rock outcrop: Goias, Brazilian Highlands (Brazilian shield, Planalto brasileiro), Brazil

Contact for quote or Purchase photographs online

Links

The Cerrados of Brazil                    (book – download) by Paulo S. Oliveira, Robert J. Marquis   – Columbia University Press 2002
Little information is available in English on the savannas of South America. This book, with chapters written by various scientists, starts filling this gap with an ecological perspective, from the soils to the plant and animal communities to the action of fire, the human occupation and conservation.

Contribution to the discussions on the origin of the cerrado biome: Brazilian savanna
  Braz. J. Biol. vol.70 no.1 São Carlos Feb. 2010
From the abstract: “Fire, as well as acid and dystrophic soils, would be factors involved in the selection of savanna species throughout climatic events, during the Tertiary and the Quaternary, e.g. Pliocene and Pleistocene.” A .pdf of the full article can be downloaded from this link.

Com Cerrado extinto água no Brasil secará
by Professor Altair Sales Barbosa of PUC de Goiás  –  Revista Ecológica  06/10/2014
Discussion of the irreversible damages on biodiversity, on water supply, on people by the irresponsible de-forestation of the cerrado by agribusiness. In Portuguese, but Google Translator gives a pretty accurate English version.

Bibliography

(more books have certainly been published – I may add them at a later date, as I become aware of them)

Neotropical Savannas and Seasonnally Dry Forests     Plant Diversity, Biogeography, and Conservation – Edited by R. Toby Pennington, Gwilym P. Lewis, James A. Ratter –  CRC Press, Taylor & Francis, 2006.
Not for the faint-hearted… 20 chapters, written by 59 specialists. Biodiversity, phytogeography, biogeographical history, population genetics, floristic relationships, conservation, parallels with African savannas, etc…

CERRADO ecologia e caracterização
Editores técnicos: Ludmilla Moura de Souza Aguiar, Amabilio José Aires de Camargo – Embrapa Informação Tecnlógica, 2004.
Chapters by various authors over conclusions of research at the EMBRAPA (Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisas Agropecuárias). Covers a wide range of topics with emphasis on biodiversity, economic aspects. human impact and environment preservation. A useful complement in Portuguese to “The Cerrados of Brazil ” described above in the Links section.

The Ecology of Neotropical Savannas, by Guillermo Sarmiento, translated by Otto Solbrig – Harvard University Press 1984.
An early study of South American savannas, based primarily on research in Venezuela. Emphasis on seasonality, nutrient-poor soils.

 

Photo identification books

100 Árvores do Cerrado
by Manoel Claudio da Silva Junior
Field guide to 100 trees of the Brazilian savannas, each species being illustrated by photographs of the flowers, leaves, bark etc to help identification.

+100 Árvores do Cerrado – Matas de Galeria
*by Manoel Claudio da Silva Junior, Benedito Alisio da Silva Pereira
Continuation of the previous field guide, concentrating on forest galleries species.

CERRADO, espécies vegetais úteis
by Semíramis Pedrosa de Almeida, Carolyn Elinore B. Proença, Sueli
Matiko Sano, José Felípe Ribeiro
Many plants of the savannas of the Brazilian Highlands are used by the
local population, as food, medicines, or manufacturing materials. The
popular knowledge of plants is extensive. This book gives a glimpse of
that knowledge, with more than 400 pages of botanical descriptions and
uses, including ecological aspects, chemical analysis etc, with one
photograph for each species.

Flores e Frutos do Cerrado                                                                                                     
Flowers and Fruits of the Cerrado
by Carolyn C. Proença, Rafael S. Oliveira, Ana Palmira Silva
A nice book to identify flowers. Short introduction both in Portuguese and in English; also a Portuguese-English glossary. Numerous photographs. A nice touch is that the flowers are grouped by color, which makes the use easy,

Flores da Serra da Calçada
by Leda Afonso Martens
Another abundantly illustrated book with photographs of  the flora of a
cerrado region of the State of Minas Gerais. It covers not only flowering
plants (angiosperms), but also some ferns and lichens, and scenics of
the region, including anthropic degradation. A wonderful book.