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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #210286

Title: A 50th anniversary guidebook for the desert project

item GILE, L.
item MONGER, H.
item AHRENS, R.
item HAWLEY, J.
item GIBBENS, R.
item Lenz, James
item Bestelmeyer, Brandon
item NOLEN, B.

Submitted to: NRCS Design Guide
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/3/2007
Publication Date: 5/15/2007
Citation: Gile, L.H., Monger, H.C., Grossman, R.B., Ahrens, R.J., Hawley, J.W., Peterson, F.F., Gibbens, R.P., Lenz, J.M., Bestelmeyer, B.T., Nolen, B.A. 2007. A 50th anniversary guidebook for the desert project. NRCS Design Guide. 279 p.

Interpretive Summary: This guidebook describes several aspects of soil and landscape development in an area of the northern Chihuahuan Desert, and summarizes the results of 50 years of work in the study area by Leland Gile and his colleagues. The Desert Project, as it has become known, has been a vitally important source of knowledge about how soil characteristics develop over time and especially how ecological change is dependent on the spatial organization of soils and local soil properties. The fact that soil change is coupled to vegetation change, and that vegetation change cannot be fully understood without consideration of soil development, lies at the heart of potential-based land classification systems (including Ecological Site Descriptions) that increasingly guide land management in the U.S. and the globe. The Desert Project uniquely places the process of soil change and vegetation change in the context of an entire desert landscape.

Technical Abstract: The Desert Project encompasses a 400 square mile areas studied by a team of soil scientists and geologists from 1957 to 1972. The project was staffed by personnel of the Soil Survey Investigations, U.S. Soil Conservation Service, and work was done in cooperation with the Agricultural Experiment Station and Department of Agronomy at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. Field investigations included mapping the soils, geomorphic surfaces, and surficial deposits at a scale of 1:15,840. In addition, detailed studies at larger scales were conducted along selected transects. Joint laboratory and field investigations included studies of characteristics and genesis of a number of soils and soil horizons, radiocarbon dating of pedogenic carbonates and organic carbon, and studies of the effect of additions from dustfall to soil genesis and morphology. The frontispiece shows major physiographic features of the Desert Project and Table 1 shows the soil chronology. Table 2 lists soils of the area by soil classification; Table 3 presents soils series analogs and taxadjuncts in alphabetical order. Soil classsifiction is accoridng to the Soil Survey Staff (2006).