June 8, 2023
The University of Arizona’s Nancy Montoya interviewed Ted Fleming about his book, Sonoran Desert Journeys during the 2023 Tucson Festival of Books. The UA’s Digital Futures Bilingual Studio hosted the interview, and the video is available here.
Fleming describes himself as a “curious naturalist,” beginning with some sketchy snake interactions from his childhood in Detroit. He talks about iconic desert species like the road runner, desert tortoise, saguaro cactus, and their evolutionary history. He also speaks about the plant/animal connection; for example, how birds and bats pollinate plants. Fleming also solves the mystery about why your hummingbird feeder is full in the evening, but empty by the next morning.
In Sonoran Desert Journeys ecologist Fleming discusses two remarkable journeys. First, he offers a brief history of our intellectual and technical journey over the past three centuries to understand the evolution of life on Earth. Next, he applies those techniques on a journey of discovery about the evolution and natural history of some of the Sonoran Desert’s most iconic animals and plants. Fleming details the daily lives of a variety of reptiles, birds, mammals, and plants, describing their basic natural and evolutionary histories and addressing intriguing issues associated with their lifestyles and how they cope with a changing climate. Finally, Fleming discusses the complexity of Sonoran Desert conservation.