In previous episodes, we covered some of the adaptations that plants found in arid regions like ours have developed to tolerate long periods of drought. Specialized roots, leaves, and photosynthetic pathways help plants native to the sagebrush steppe go for weeks or months with little to no precipitation. Luckily, the plants don’t have to go it alone. A suite of microbes forming a “crust” on the soil surface is key to the survival of our native flora. Casey introduces us to this phenomenon, and describes how biological soil crusts, among other things, help maintain soil moisture.
Speaking of the sagebrush steppe, the fauna in this region is on equal footing with the flora when it comes to how fascinating it is. One of the most incredible animals that calls our region home is pronghorn, commonly referred to as antelope due to their close resemblance (yet distant relationship) to the antelopes of Africa. Pronghorns are, by far, the fastest mammals in North America. Daniel shares some pronghorn facts as well as some speculation as to why pronghorns are able to run as fast as they do.