A quantitative ecology of the Jornada Experimental Range

TitleA quantitative ecology of the Jornada Experimental Range
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication1970
AuthorsHerbel C.H., Dittberner P.L., Bickle T.S.
Series EditorWright R.G, Van Dyne G.M.
Conference NameProceedings: Simulation and analysis of a semidesert grassland: An interdisciplinary workshop program toward evaluating the potential ecological impact of weather modification
VolumeScience Series No. 6
Date Published1970
PublisherRange Science Department, Colorado State University
KeywordsJornada Experimental Range, quantitative ecology, semidesert grassland
AbstractThe area including the Jornada Range has been classified as semidesert grassland. The semidesert grassland extends over southeastern Arizona, southern New Mexico, western Texas and northern Mexico [the desert grassland of Shreve (1917) and Shantz and Zon (1924), and the desert plains of Clements (1920)]. The semidesert grassland does not occupy that entire area but occurs rather widely interspersed with other types. It occupies extensive plains areas, but it also typically occurs as broad belts around the base of many of the Southwestern mountain ranges. Although the region is termed "grassland," it is far from being an essentially unbroken expanse of grasses, as are the tall-end, mixed grass prairies. In some places, pure stands of grass prevail; in others, there are open savannas with grasses associated with oaks or mesquites. In still other places, the grasses are interspersed with a wide variety of low-growing trees or shrubs. Annual and perennial grasses and forbs, and shrubs are common. The semidesert grassland has long been considered as a climatically determined climax (Clements, 1920; Campbell, 1929; Whitfield and Anderson, 1938; Whitfield and Betner, 1938; Clements and Shelford, 1939; Gardner, 1951). Shreve (1917) regarded the area as transitional between a true grassland to the east and the shrub deserts to the west and south. On the basis of changes in a protected grassland area, Brown (1950) concluded that semidesert grassland was not climax but was maintained in part by some factor that was unfavorable to shrubs. Canfield (1948) and Buffington and Herbel (1965) found that once unpalatable woody plants are established, they become a relatively permanent part of the plant cover. More stable areas can undoubtedly be classified as grassland but other large areas would have to be classified as desert shrub or Chihuahuan Desert.