Plant Communities in the Jornada Basin: The Dynamic Landscape

TitlePlant Communities in the Jornada Basin: The Dynamic Landscape
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsPeters DC, Gibbens, Robert P.
EditorHavstad K, Huenneke L., Schlesinger W.H
Book TitleStructure and Function of a Chihuahuan Desert Ecosystem: The Jornada Basin Long-Term Ecological Research Site
PublisherOxford University Press
CityNew York, NY
ARIS Log Number157297
KeywordsChihuahuan Desert, Jornada Basin, LTER, synthesis book
AbstractPlant communities of the Jornada Basin LTER are characteristic of the northern Chihuahuan Desert, both in structure and dynamics. Five major vegetation types are often distinguished that differ in plant species cover and composition, as well as other factors, such as animal populations, soil properties, and elevation. Similar to many other parts of the Chihuahuan Desert, these plant communities have experienced major shifts in vegetation over the past 50-150 years. The most dramatic changes in vegetation have occurred as a result of woody plant encroachment into perennial grasslands. In this chapter, we describe the characteristics of each vegetation type and the documented changes in each type at the Jornada. We also discuss the key drivers (small and larger animal activity, drought, fire, and directional changes in climate) influencing these vegetation dynamics.