Recent rates of mesquite establishment in the northern Chihuahuan Desert

TitleRecent rates of mesquite establishment in the northern Chihuahuan Desert
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsGibbens, Robert P., Beck RF, McNeely R.P., Herbel C.H.
JournalJournal of Range Management
Date Published1992
Accession NumberJRN00161
Keywordsarid rangelands, desert grasslands, prosopis glandulosa, seedling establishment, shrub invasion

Honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa Torr. var. glandulosa) populations continue to expand and become more dense, even on areas once "successfully" treated either with herbicides or by bulldozing in southern New Mexico.  Areas treated from 1958-1964 for mesquite control on the USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range and the New Mexico State University College Ranch were sampled to determine mesquite density changes.  On herbicide treated areas sampled in 1976 and again in 1988, mesquite densities increased 10%  to 128% and had densities from 67 to 494 plants/ha.  Two areas treated by either bulldozing or fenuron in 1959-60, and with original kills near 100%, had an average density of 377 plants.ha by 1988, with an establishment rate of 13.5 plants/ha/year.  On the College Ranch, mesquite densities increased 11%, from 130 (1982) to 147 (1988) plants/ha.  Only 19% of a cohort of mesquite seedlings which germinated in 1989 were still alive in May 1990.  Even though only a small percentage of the mesquite that germinated survived into the second year, this is enough to change former grasslands into mesquite-dominated rangelands.