|Title||Critical thresholds and recovery of Chihuahuan Desert grasslands: Insights from long-term data|
|Publication Type||Conference Paper|
|Year of Publication||2013|
|Authors||Bestelmeyer BT, Havstad K, Svejcar L.N., Duniway M, Okin GS, Peters DC|
|Conference Name||98th Annual Meeting, Ecological Society of America|
|Conference Location||Minneapolis, MN|
|ARIS Log Number||319963|
Background/Question/Methods: Desertification and other harmful state transitions in drylands are expected to accelerate with global change. Ecologists are called upon to devise methods to anticipate critical thresholds and promote recovery of desired states. As in other drylands, transitions in semiarid grasslands of the Chihuahuan Desert involve the loss of perennial grasses and their replacement by shrubs. Dryland applications of critical threshold theory suggest that as large vegetated patches become fragmented, the breakdown of soil-resource mediated feedbacks between patch size and plant survival/reproduction will accelerate vegetation loss and preclude recovery. Thus, metrics reflecting gradual changes in vegetation patch size might be used as indicators of critical thresholds and recovery trajectories. We use 100 years of observations at the Jornada Experimental Range and Jornada Basin LTER to ask: how can critical thresholds and recovery be more effectively managed?