Phantoms of the Mojave
One of North America's most endangered waterways is the Virgin River, which flows out of southwestern Utah to form part of the Arizona/Nevada border before emptying into Lake Mead. It represents a northerly extrusion of the Mojave Desert ecological community, and hosts numerous species of animals and plants found nowhere else, eight of them considered endangered. The river extends the ranges of dozens of other species a hundred or more miles to the north, but is threatened by water pollution and diversion, and by the expanding cities of Mesquite, Nevada and St. George, Utah, the latter of which boasts 13 golf courses. This painting depicts four Virgin River specialties: a Western Banded Gecko descends the woody skeleton of a dead Silver Cholla before the nocturnal, trumpet-like blossom of a Western Jimsonweed. Also visible is a Jimson Beetle, which feeds on Jimsonweed leaves.