Grassland restoration following mesquite invasion in the northern Chihuahuan Desert: Persistence, patience, and perspectives from the past and present

TitleGrassland restoration following mesquite invasion in the northern Chihuahuan Desert: Persistence, patience, and perspectives from the past and present
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsAbbott L., Herrick JE, Young K
Conference NameSociety for Range Management
Conference LocationDenver, CO
ARIS Log Number250894
KeywordsChihuahuan Desert, ecological, restoration
AbstractThe widespread invasion of grasslands by woody plants in the northern Chihuahuan Desert over the past 100-150 years is well-documented, and has stimulated a large body of research about the mechanisms driving this conversion, as well as approaches to grassland restoration. Progressive invasion and eventual domination by mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa Torr.) is often associated with dramatic redistribution of soils, loss of herbaceous cover, and severely reduced ecological function. Restoration in this region is problematic due to low soil moisture availability and the instability of mesquite-dominated communities, particularly on coarse sandy soils. Historical efforts to rehabilitate invaded sites initially focused on implementing individual control methods and reseeding to restore vegetation structure. Progressively, the focus of restoration research has incorporated integrated management approaches aimed at recovering both structure and function. We provide a brief review of historical approaches, lessons learned, and the results of recent research involving simultaneous manipulations of vegetation, soils, and the soil seedbank.