An approach to managing landscape pattern and dynamics in southern New Mexico

TitleAn approach to managing landscape pattern and dynamics in southern New Mexico
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsBestelmeyer BT, Brown J., Havstad K, Alexander R., Chavez G., Herrick JE
Conference NameSociety for Range Management, New Mexico Section Newsletter
Date PublishedApril 1, 2001
Conference LocationLas Cruces, NM
ARIS Log Number131544
Keywordsclassifying, dynamics, ecological site concept, landscape pattern, landscape units, management
AbstractThe ecological site concept of USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service provides a hierarchical framework for classifying and distinguishing landscape units differing in the processes that determine plant and animal community dynamics within units and that determine interactions among units. Ecological sites are based upon important differences in landscape position and inherent soil properties as defined by the responses of dominant plant species to variation in climate and management. Dominant plants, in turn, regulate several ecosystem attributes including dynamic soil properties. State-and-transition models represent theories about the positive feedbacks between plants and ecosystems and the causes of irreversible changes in plant and animal composition. An understanding of these causes is needed to avoid ecosystem degradation, to fairly evaluate and manage instances of degradation, and to promote remediation. Here, we describe our ongoing efforts to improve the ecological site classification system for the Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico by integrating current approaches to community and landscape ecology with the historical perspective and practical experiences of land managers and ranchers. Our approach emphasizes an increased understanding of patterns of dispersal, establishment, and growth of dominant plants along landscape and climatic gradients.