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Press Release 09-062

Desert Woodrats Switch One Dietary Poison for Another

Climate change drives shift from toxic juniper trees to creosote bushes

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Photo of a woodrat in Utah's Great Basin isurrounded by toxic juniper leaves.

A woodrat in Utah's Great Basin is surrounded by toxic juniper leaves, which is much of its diet.

Credit: Denise Dearing, University of Utah


Download the high-resolution JPG version of the image. (5 MB)

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Photo of creosote bushes in the Mohave Desert.

Creosote bushes replaced juniper trees in the Mohave Desert more than 10,000 years ago; woodrats had to switch their diet from juniper to creosote.

Credit: Denise Dearing, University of Utah


Download the high-resolution JPG version of the image. (956 KB)

Use your mouse to right-click (Mac users may need to Ctrl-click) the link above and choose the option that will save the file or target to your computer.