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Simulated solar panels create altered microhabitats in desert landforms

Researchers in this study used experimental panels to simulate the effects of solar development on microhabitats and annual plant communities present on gravelly bajada and caliche pan habitat, two common habitat types in California’s Mojave Desert. They evaluated soils and microclimatic conditions and measured community response under panels and in the open for seven years. The study’s results demonstrate that the ecological consequences of solar development can vary over space and time and suggest that a nuanced approach will be needed to predict impacts across desert landforms differing in physical characteristics.