Ecological research at the Jornada Basin LTER centers on understanding transitions between alternative ecosystem states, particularly in the vegetation and soil communities that inhabit the Chihuahuan Desert of southwestern North America. We have a number of long-term observations and ecological experiments at sites throughout the Jornada Basin and other arid and semi-arid lands. Our research is organized into six themes:
Desertification: Studies of how desert grasslands recede and are replaced by shrublands or other “degraded” ecosystem states.
Grass Recovery: Understanding how desert grasslands recover during natural events and through restorative management.
Shrub State Transitions: Research into the dynamics of, and transitions between, dryland shrub ecosystem states.
Novel Ecosystems: Dryland transitions to new ecosystem states, often following anthropogenic disturbances or species introductions.
Landscape Integration: Scaling our local insights on dryland ecosystem states and transitions up to landscapes, regions, and the globe.
Global Change: Experimental and observational studies of how global change and variability impacts Chihuahuan desert ecosystems.