Algodones Dunes

This site is devoted to exploring the insects, other animals and plants of the Algodones Dunes. The research is supported by the U. S. Bureau of Land Management and many collaborators.

The Algodones, or Imperial Dunes form an elongate band along the eastern margin of the Imperial Valley, roughly 70 km long and 10 km wide. Occupying approximately 160,000 acres, this is the largest dunes ecosystem in North America. The east and west sides of the dunes differ geologically and biologically. Creosote bush scrub and open dune habitats characterize the drier western side. Run-off from the Chocolate Mountains keeps the higher eastern side of the dunes wetter. The eastern side includes open dunes, creosote bush scrub, and microphyll woodland habitats. The interior of the open dunes is remarkable because of the presence of permanent claypans, which function as temporary water sources with sufficient rainfall. Open dune habitat also typifies the southern end of the dunes, near the Mexican border but the plant and insect species composition differs somewhat from that of further north. Plants and animals living on the dunes are uniquely adapted to survive extreme temperatures, little rainfall and shifting substrates.