Submitted to: Society for Ecological Restoration Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: September 4, 1995
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Shrub-dominated communities have replaced native grasslands throughout much of the arid Southwest. Past attempts to re-establish native grasslands or to revegetate with exotic grasses have largely failed, or have resulted in further degradation. These attempts failed in spite of large energy inputs such as root-plowing, fertilization and herbicides. Large-scale surface disturbances associated with these approaches may also disrupt soil and cultural resources. A recently-initiated rangeland restoration research program at the USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range is based on the following premises: (1) biological integrity of both above- and below- ground systems, in addition to the short-term establishment of desired species, is necessary to buffer against future disturbances, (2) resource redistribution over time at the community and landscape levels plays an important role in both desertification and restoration processes, (3) restoration efforts should focus on fertile sites best suited for re-establishment of the native community, and (4) planting technologies should be based on readily-available "natural" dispersal systems. Current and planned research at the Jornada includes work on the role of shrub rooting patterns and soil biota (e.g. mycorrhizae, ants and termites) in restoration, the use of animals and water as potential dispersal agents of propagules, the use of grazing animals as remediation tools, and adaptation of indigenous agricultural practices.