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

TitleAn integrated approach to managing landscape pattern and dynamics in southern New Mexico
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsBestelmeyer BT, Brown J., Havstad K, Alexander R., Chavez G., Herrick JE
Conference Name16th Annual Symposium, US-International Association for Landscape Ecology Meeting
Date PublishedApril 25-29, 200
Conference LocationTempe, AZ
ARIS Log Number131473
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 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 feedback 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.