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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #354034

Research Project: Management Technologies for Conservation of Western Rangelands

Location: Range Management Research

Title: A Tale of Two Thresholds: Mistakes and Serendipity in a Desert Grassland

item Bestelmeyer, Brandon

Submitted to: Ecological Society of America Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/5/2018
Publication Date: 8/8/2018
Citation: Bestelmeyer, B.T. 2018. A Tale of Two Thresholds: Mistakes and Serendipity in a Desert Grassland [abstract]. 103rd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, August 5-10, 2018, New Orleans, Louisiana. p. 244-6.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Semiarid grasslands have crossed thresholds to shrub-dominated states due to heavy grazing episodes and their after-effects. Extreme weather events and restoration actions can catalyze varying degrees of grass recovery. While we understand these thresholds in biophysical terms, we have scarcely explored their ultimate societal causes. I will reconstruct thought processes underpinning historical desertification events on the Jornada Experimental Range, including some recent first-hand experiences. I also describe how such “mental models” underpin restoration success. Given the large management extents and heterogeneity inherent to drylands, I argue that appropriate mental models are the most important tools we have to manage thresholds.