Perceptions from review of 80 years of range research in the Chihuahuan Desert

TitlePerceptions from review of 80 years of range research in the Chihuahuan Desert
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsHavstad K
Conference NameAnnual Meeting, Society for Range Management
Date Published1992
Keywordsapplication of principles, Chihuahuan Desert, management issues, perceptions, range research
AbstractRangeland research has been conducted in the northern Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico for the past 80 years. Early scientists with the well recognized names of Jardine, Forsling, and Chapline, were followed by Campbell, Canfield, and Parker and, more recently, by Paulsen and Herbel. Their research efforts were impressive and productivity was substantial. Four observations from a review of their published record are: (1) Basic tenets of management were established in the early 1920s while later research simply refined and/or slightly expanded these tenets. (2) Range improvement has been a constant thrust, but many tools resulting from this research are not currently applicable. (3) Current management concerns remain poorly assessed, especially as related to applicable data on grazing capacity and vegetation dynamics. (4) And, recent research efforts are more diverse, basic, descriptive and less directly applicable to management needs. It could be concluded that range science has failed to illuminate principles applicable to today's management issues in the Southwest. This general viewpoint and the viewpoint that range science and range management are separate but complementary endeavors have been recently expressed (Provenza, F.D., 1991, JRM 44:281-183). However, review of literature (especially from biological sciences) presents numerous basic principles with application to rangelands. The present deficit is lack of application of these principles by range researchers to the development of tools and new uses of current tools suitable for management goals given the reality of present day constraints. A recent survey of future range research topics indicates ecology and improvements as top priorities with a scattering of other interests (Hardesty, L.H., 1991, JRM 44:289-294). To effectively use the next 80 years of research we must continually identify current management needs, utilize applicable principles identified from all scientific fields, and emphasize development of usable tools.