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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Landscape-Scale Processes and Sensitivity of Chihuahuan Desert Ecosystems to Climate Change

Authors
item Peters, Debra
item Herrick, Jeffrey

Submitted to: US-International Association for Landscape Ecology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 29, 1999
Publication Date: July 29, 1999
Citation: PETERS, D.C., HERRICK, J.E. LANDSCAPE-SCALE PROCESSES AND SENSITIVITY OF CHIHUAHUAN DESERT ECOSYSTEMS TO CLIMATE CHANGE. 5TH WORLD CONGRESS, US-INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY. 1999. V. II(L-Z). ABSTRACT P. 122.

Technical Abstract: Our objective was to predict the response of Chihuahuan Desert landscapes to climate change using a multi-scale approach that includes vegetation- soil feedbacks, seed source and seed dispersal across the landscape. We used vegetation, soils, and climate maps for the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge LTER site (SNWR) in central New Mexico as input parameters in a spatially-explicit individual plant-based simulation model (ECOTONE). The model incorporates feedbacks among vegetation and soil properties and processes that are important to perennial grass establishment and survival. We used the model to predict the locations most likely to shift from shrub- to grass-dominated vegetation due to changes in climate. Our results showed an increase in perennial grass cover throughout the SNWR. Sensitivity of shrub-dominated locations was dependent upon soil texture and distance to the nearest perennial grass seed source. Feedbacks between changes in species composition and soil organic matter modified the rate of change in dominant species. Our results demonstrate the importance of landscape-scale processes and vegetation-soil feedbacks to shifts in vegetation at ecotones.

Last Modified: 7/31/2014
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