Great Basin Naturalist


The relationship between form and habitat utilization of Echinocereus engelmannii and E. triglochidiatus was studied in southeastern California. The major difference in form is in the density of stems comprising the canopy. These differences in morphology create differences in the daily heat loads of each species. Echinocereus triglochidiatus, with its stems densely packed and in contact with each other over much of their lengths, continues to gain heat internally as the sun sets due to conductance between the stems. In contrast E. engelmannii, with a more open canopy, begins to lose heat as the sun goes down. As a result, E. triglochidiatus is successful in the juniper-pinyon zone where winter temperatures are cold for long periods and E. engelmannii is more successful in the lower desert regions where very hot, summer temperatures prevail. In the latter case, daytime buildup in heat load is reduced by convective cooling as air moves through the open canopy. Differences in microhabitat utilization occur that provide a second mechanism to reduce daily heat load buildup on hot summer days in the juniper-pinyon zone.