National Park Service

Chihuahuan Desert Network (CHDN)

I&M at Big Bend National Park

Big Bend Natonal Park
Big Bend Natonal Park
NPS LogoBig Bend National Park Home Page
CHDN park map
Location of Big Bend National Park in the Chihuahuan Desert Network. Click for larger image.

Big Bend National Park (NP) encompasses the largest protected area representative of the Chihuahuan Desert in the United States. The Chisos Mountains comprise the park’s “sky islands;” surrounded by desert; the montane habitats found here support boreal species such as quaking aspen and ponderosa pine, commonly found in northern latitudes. A significant part of the park’s diversity is represented by isolated populations of plants and animals found in the Chisos Mountains and in many of the desert springs distributed across the park. Big Bend NP supports tremendous biodiversity including 1,569 plant species from 114 families, 31 species of fish, 69 species of reptiles and amphibians, 75 species of mammals, and 411 species of birds. The Chihuahuan Desert has more species of cacti that any other desert, and more cactus species are found in Big Bend NP than in the entire state of Arizona. Climate change is a strong concern here, as there are no higher habitats into which forest species can migrate to escape increases in temperature. Further, many plant and animal communities are relic, unique, geographically isolated, or exist on the margin of their range.

CHDN monitors air quality, climate, groundwater, invasive plants, landbirds, landscape dynamics, river channel dynamics, spring ecosystems and uplands vegetation and soils at Big Bend NP.

Life Zone

With an elevation range of approximately 548-2,387 m (1,780-7,831 ft), Big Bend NP contains all four life zones: desert and semi-desert grasslands, desert scrub and woodlands, montane chaparral and montane woodlands. Annual precipitation in the park is 25 cm (10 in) in the desert to 46 cm (18 in) in the Chisos Mountains.

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Last Updated: March 21, 2017 Contact Webmaster