Introduction to special issue - Landscape linkages and cross scale interactions in arid and semiarid ecosystems

TitleIntroduction to special issue - Landscape linkages and cross scale interactions in arid and semiarid ecosystems
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsEstell R.E., Fredrickson E.L., Peters DC
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Date PublishedApril 2006
ARIS Log Number180457
Keywordsarid, cross scale, desertification, ecosystems, invasion, landscape, linkages, semiarid, shrub

The conversion of grasslands to shrublands in arid and semiarid ecosystems is a serious global problem. Although a great deal of research has been conducted on these conversions, we lack a complete understanding of the processes underlying the transitions. More importantly, our ability to predict when and where desertification will occur and our ability to manage landscapes to prevent degradation and restore degraded landscapes is limited. Research being conducted at the Jornada Experimental Range (JER) is addressing these problems in a new, synthetic way. Since 1981, scientists affiliated with the Jornada Basin Long-Term Ecological Research site in collaboration with scientists from the JER and New Mexico State University generated a number of new ideas and concepts regarding the processes governing desertification that changed our thinking about how these systems operate. Our focus now emphasizes cross-scale spatial and temporal heterogeneity in vegetation patterns and dynamics that have been difficult to explain using traditional approaches. The realization that our current knowledge often cannot explain the existing variability among land units led to the development of a conceptual model by JER scientists that considers nonlinear dynamics and connections among land units across scales. This cross-scale landscape ecology approach will further our understanding of critical processes occurring in arid regions globally and will provide insight to help identify mechanisms to address the pressing issue of desertification.