Desert Speaks Previous Broadcasts

Giants on a Galapagos Island (Episode #1613)

KQED World: Tue, Feb 21, 2012 -- 6:30 AM

This program visits one of the few inhabited islands in the Galapagos. Host David Yetman and ecologist Yar Petryszyn explore the people and culture of the island of Santa Cruz with a stroll through the market at Puerto Ayora. Then it's off to visit the Darwin Research Station and its famous saddle back tortoises, which are being reintroduced to the area after being hunted close to extinction. One of these tortoises, Diego, is named after the San Diego Zoo, which is home to a tortoise-breeding program. Other highlights include a look at land iguanas, which also faced extinction from hunting, and the tree prickly pear that stands taller than a 2-story house. Finally, the crew jumps on a old bus and ventures up the mountain to find volcanic craters, Scalisia forests, wild Galapagos Tortoises and Darwin Finches- the birds that led to Darwin's theory of evolution.

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED World: Tue, Feb 21, 2012 -- 9:30 AM

Of Drought and Fire (Episode #1612)

KQED World: Tue, Feb 14, 2012 -- 6:30 AM

Within the last three decades there have been large wildfires consuming the forests in nearly all the mountain ranges above the desert southwest. Just below the ranges, the lack of rains combined with invasive species has caused additional wildfires that have devastated portions of the Sonoran Desert. The link between drought and fire has pre-historic roots and host David Yetman and Tom Swetnam from the University of Arizona's Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research travel through the desert to higher elevations that contain evidence of drought, fire, and civilization. There is evidence that droughts drove early civilizations out of their dwellings on the Colorado Plateau and forced them to move nearer to the Rio Grande River. Yetman also ventures through a dog-hair thicket that has become dangerous because of previous land management practices and the lack of regular fire to regulate its growth. Additionally featured in this episode is a hike through Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to see how scientists study the adaptability of desert plants to long-term and short-term droughts.

The People of Peru's Cloud Forest (Episode #1610)

KQED World: Tue, Feb 14, 2012 -- 6:00 AM

Beginning in Cajamarca, host David Yetman, geologist Dick Yetman and South American archaeological expert Axel Nielsen head out into the colorful city streets in pursuit of authentic and very distinctive South American hats that are almost as tall as they are wide. This quest takes them past local merchant stalls and through Calle de Cuyes, or guinea pig alley, where locals can purchase skinned and fully dressed guinea pigs to eat. After purchasing some finely woven hats, the brothers head to a museum in Leimebamba that houses the ancestors of the Chachapoyas who were mummified and enclosed within wooden sarcophagi. Yetman and Nielsen inspect some the museum's pottery, jewelry and a counting system created by the Incas based on knots. They are also allowed the amazing privilege of examining one of the mummies up close. The crew then treks to Kuelap to find the archeological ruins of the Chachapoyas. Kuelap, a place some believe that might one day rival Machu Picchu in its importance, displays a massive system of defensive walls strategically placed on a hilltop, an active archeological site with human remains, artifacts and areas that were once sacred to the people of Peru's Cloud Forest.

Costal Civilizations of Ancient Peru (Episode #1609)

KQED World: Tue, Feb 7, 2012 -- 6:30 AM

This episode surveys some of the enormous adobe pyramids that still tower over the vast Peruvian countryside. South American archaeological expert Axel Nielsen guides host David Yetman through the premier museum of South America, the Royal Tombs of Sipan, which house some of the richest gold artifacts in the world. From there, they trek to Huaca del Sol and Huaca del Luna, immense pyramids that emphasize the duality and symbolism of the pre-Incan societies. The last archeological stop is Chan Chan, an area known for its walls of design and decoration, which stretch as far as the eye can see. Finally, watch the local fisherman construct and then navigate their boats made out of totora reeds in the same manner as their pre-Incan ancestors. Observe how these "caballitos del mar" (sea horses) are used daily to harvest fish from the sea.

On The Trail of a Living Fossil (Episode #1604)

KQED World: Tue, Feb 7, 2012 -- 6:00 AM

In an effort to discover more about the desert tortoise, host David Yetman treks from the dry deserts of Utah to the tropics of Northwestern Mexico in search of these special animals. The trail begins outside of St. George Utah, which has more tortoises there per square kilometer than anywhere else in the United States. In the Mojave Desert, Yetman observes how tortoises are marked and then tracked using telemetry. The goal of this study is not only to monitor the desert tortoises' path, but also to study their behaviors and the effects of changing land use. The task is not as easy as it may sound, because these creatures are actually capable of moving 25 miles in one season. The Desert Speaks also visits some of the happy homes in the Sonoran Desert that have benefited from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum's Desert Tortoise adoption program. Finally Yetman tracks down some fellow-trackers in search of the southernmost tortoises, near Alamos, Sonora.

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