This course is a field-based exploration of the flora and vegetation of the American Southwest and the physical factors such as climate and geologic history that shape the region. Emphasis is placed on the ecological interplay amongst desert, chaparral, and temperate conifer forest vegetation types, the climatic and physiographic factors that determine community distribution. Students build on foundational principles of natural history and ecology through development and practice of observation, identification, and interpretation skills and the keeping of a refined naturalist field journal. Topics include a botanical survey of woody plant families and representative species, natural community composition and structure, biogeographic concepts, desert adaptations, geologic history, geomorphic processes and related landforms, and southwest weather and climate. Students gain skills in identification, classification and interpretation of organisms, field journaling, species accounts and systematic species lists, and reading the southwest landscape. Course format includes lectures, discussions, and a significant field component.