|Title||An extreme precipitation event, abrupt grass recovery, and soil processes in the Chihuahuan Desert|
|Publication Type||Conference Paper|
|Year of Publication||2022|
|Authors||Bestelmeyer BT, Levi M, Macanowicz N, Throop HL, Webb N|
|Conference Name||Ecological Society of America (ESA)|
|ARIS Log Number||386568|
|Keywords||abrupt grass recovery, Chihuahuan Desert, extreme precipitation event, soil, soil processes|
Landscapes in the northern Chihuahuan Desert have been undergoing a gradual shift from perennial grassland to shrubland over the past century, driven primarily by the legacies of historical disturbance events and ongoing aridification. Nonetheless, extreme high rainfall periods can result in instances of remarkable grassland recovery, although they are highly patchy. In one area on the USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range, abrupt grass recovery occurred in an eroding Prosopis glandulosa shrubland state in response to a high rainfall period (2007-2009)—an event that we did not imagine could happen. We are comparing ecosystem processes in this “recovered savanna” to 1) patches of grassland that are in a relatively unaltered “reference” state and 2) patches of shrubland state in which grass recovery did not occur. We asked a) is the recovered savanna similar to the reference grassland with respect to structure, composition, and vegetation-soil feedbacks and b) what led to spatial variation in grassland recovery? We compared vegetation and soil chemical and physical properties at twelve replicate study plots in each of the three states: recovered savanna, reference grassland, and shrubland. In addition, we are monitoring soil volumetric water content and aeolian sediment flux within each state.