Submitted to: Journal of Arid Environments
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/28/2001
Publication Date: 5/1/2002
Citation: HOCHSTRASSER, T., KROEL-DULAY, G., PETERS, D.C., GOSZ, J.R. VEGETATION AND CLIMATE CHARACTERISTICS OF ARID AND SEMIARID GRASSLANDS IN NORTH AMERICA AND THEIR BIOME TRANSITION ZONE. JOURNAL OF ARID ENVIRONMENTS. 2002. V. 51(1). P. 55-78.
Interpretive Summary: We examined the relationship between species richness, functional group composition, and climate for three grassland types representing the shortgrass steppe in northern Colorado, the Chihuahuan Desert in southern New Mexico, and the transition zone where both grasslands meet in central New Mexico. We found perennial species richness increased as precipitation nincreased from south to north. The transitional site was more similar to the Chihuahuan Desert than to the shortgrass steppe for most climate and vegetation characteristics. This similarity was likely due to the close proximity of those two sites. Our results show transition zones have unique characteristics compared with the adjoining communities.
Technical Abstract: The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship among species richness, functional group composition, and climate for three sites representing the shortgrass steppe, the Chihuahuan desert grasslands, and their biome transition zone. We found perennial species richness increased as the climate became more favorable for plant growth. The biome transition zone was more similar to the Chihuahuan desert grassland site i most climate and vegetation characteristics, partly because of the shorter biogeographic distance between the two sites. This study clarified the ecological position of the biome transition zone site with respect to the adjacent biomes.