Our Botany Department is creating the first rare-plant database for the borderlands between the U.S. and Mexico in collaboration with Dr. Sula Vanderplank, Mexican scientists, and the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. The team is trekking through Baja’s backcountry, mapping out the region’s rarest plants, and documenting threats to each species’ survival, all of which helps decision makers in both nations make informed choices for conservation. The seeds we collect are stored at the Mexican National Seedbank and The Millennium Seed Bank at Kew Gardens in England, providing insurance against certain plants blinking out forever.
Conservation isn’t just for living plants and animals. Fossils are a critical natural resource that help us understand big topics like climate change, species survival, food webs, and evolution. Our PaleoServices team partnered with Caltrans and SANDAG during construction of State Route 11 and the new Port of Entry in Otay Mesa. They discovered entirely new rock layers exposed by the bulldozers, along with skeletal remains of extinct camels, horses, oreodonts, rodents, and "bone-crushing" dogs. The fossils are now part of our paleontology collection, where they are available for study and to help answer the questions of the future.