Mesquite recruitment: historic patterns with long-term impacts

TitleMesquite recruitment: historic patterns with long-term impacts
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsFredrickson E.L., Abbott L., Anderson D.M., Estell R.E.
Conference NameSixth Symposium on the Natural Resources of the Chihuahuan Desert Region
Date PublishedOctober 15, 2004
Conference LocationAlpine, TX
ARIS Log Number171302
KeywordsChihuahuan Desert, excessive grazing, long-term impacts, mesquite, patterns, seed dissemination, small-scale events
AbstractMesquite (Prosopis glandulosa Torrey) has increased in dominance over large areas of the Chihuahuan Desert, chiefly at the expense of once expansive desert grasslands. Excessive grazing and seed dissemination by livestock are often attributed as the cause of this transition. We propose an alternate hypothesis that expansion of mesquite is not due to simple cause and effect relationships, but rather a network of cause and effect relationships. We assert that mesquite expansion may have occurred even in the absence of the widespread livestock grazing occurring during the last 130 years. We then look at factors that attenuate or intensify mesquite expansion and how a series of small-scale but temporally seminal events propagate across multiple scales. Lastly, we examine how acceptance of this hypothesis, or its parts, might be useful in enhancing 21st century efforts focused on remediation of desert grasslands.