Dune Biodiversity of the Baja California Peninsula

The peninsula of Baja California is home to some of the longest stretches of undisturbed coast in North America. Ideal spots for future development, the area’s coast and the sand dunes associated with it are at risk of environmental degradation. Unlike California where most dune conservation efforts are focused on restoration of degraded habitat, many dunes in the peninsula of Baja California are relatively intact. In order to establish conservation priorities for the dunes it is essential to assess the biodiversity and uniqueness of the dunes.

Insects are a good candidate for assessing biodiversity of dunes. Many have developed special adaptations to live in dry sandy soils and are considered dune endemics, species only found in dunes. Since dunes act like little isolated habitat islands, the dune insects that evolve there might not be just endemic to dunes but also endemic to that little habitat island. In other words, the different dune systems throughout the peninsula each have their own unique set of insects.

With such narrow habitat requirements, degradation and development of dunes is particularly harmful to these dune endemics. In a binational effort, Museum entomologists and scientists from Mexico are generating the first entomological inventory of the coastal dunes of the Peninsula of Baja California. Through the identification of the most ecologically valuable coastal dunes, their insect biodiversity, and the threat of development they face, the entomologists’ goal is to provide data that will allow decision makers in Mexico to better conserve and manage this precious resource.

The Dunes

Ranging from vast seas of rolling sands in the Vizcaino Peninsula to narrow sandy spits protecting lagoons and mangroves, the dunes of the peninsula are diverse and widespread. More.

Sand Specialists

Many insects and arachnids are sand specialists with special adaptations to cope with the environment of dunes. More.

The Team

The Dune Team is rag tag group of researchers, students, and volunteers from both sides of the border. More.

How you can help...

Share pictures of the plants, and animals that you encounter in dunes of the peninsula with our iNaturalist project, volunteer to help us in the lab, or make a donation. More.