What a 1900s Wildlife Survey Reveals About Climate Change

A century ago, a biologist counted California’s desert animals. Now researchers are retracing his steps—and the results are surprising.

When researchers following in the boots of biologist Joseph Grinnell, who a century ago created a pioneering survey of California wildlife, began sampling birds and small mammals in the Mojave Desert, they expected the harsh conditions would magnify population changes driven by the climate crisis.

“We knew when we were going to the desert that life was on the edge there,” says Steven R. Beissinger, a professor of ecology and conservation biology at UC Berkeley who has been part of what’s called the Grinnell Resurvey Project since it

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