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ARS Home » Plains Area » Mandan, North Dakota » Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #312356

Research Project: New Technologies to Enhance Sustainability of Northern Great Plains Grasslands

Location: Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory

Title: Social-ecological dynamics of change and restoration attempts in the Chihuahuan Desert grasslands of Janos Biosphere Reserve, Mexico

Author
item Hruska, Tracy - University Of California
item Toledo, David
item Sierra-corona, R - Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico
item Solis-gracia, V - Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico

Submitted to: Plant Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/15/2016
Publication Date: 1/5/2017
Citation: Hruska, T., Toledo, D.N., Sierra-Corona, R., Solis-Gracia, V. 2017. Social-ecological dynamics of change and restoration attempts in the Chihuahuan Desert grasslands of Janos Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. Plant Ecology. 218:67-80.

Interpretive Summary: Landscape scale social and ecological changes have contributed to the deterioration of ecosystems within the Janos Biosphere Reserve in Northern Chihuahua, Mexico. We used a combination of social methods including participant interviews, personal observation, literature review, and expert opinion to determine social and ecological factors having the most effect over this system at different spatial and temporal scales and suggest potential changes to this system that would promote positive social and environmental changes.

Technical Abstract: Shrub encroachment and grassland loss are widespread throughout the US-Mexico borderlands with negative consequences for production of livestock and ecosystem services. In this paper we detail the complex social and ecological phenomena associated with this pattern of degradation in a large area in northern Chihuahua in order to reveal subtle barriers to restoration and paths to overcome them. We use information gathered through participant interviews and archival data to analyze factors contributing to negative changes that are contributing to land use changes that have affected the resilience and vulnerability of this socio-ecological system. Recent degradation of Chihuahuan Desert grasslands is likely related to patterns of heavy grazing, but land and livestock management has been shaped by interactions of diverse political, economic, and social factors. Land conversion was halted by the formation of the Janos Biosphere Reserve, but restoring sensitive grasslands means working within established social patterns and financial constraints. A long-term strategy for restoration is operating, with a heavy reliance on outreach, education, and cooperation with local landowners.