Rethinking remediation technologies for desertified landscapes

TitleRethinking remediation technologies for desertified landscapes
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsHerrick JE, Havstad K, Fredrickson E.L.
Conference NameSociety for Ecology Restoration Meeting
Date PublishedSeptember 14-16,
Conference LocationUniversity of Washington, Seattle, WA
Keywordsdesertified landscapes, remediation technologies, Southwest

Shrub-dominated communities have replaced native grasslands throughout much of the arid Southwest. Past attempts to reestablish native grasslands or to revegetate with exotic grasses have largely failed or have resulted in further degradation. These attempts failed in spite of large energy inputs such as rootplowing, fertilization, and herbicides. Large-scale surface disturbances associated with these approaches may also disrupt soil and cultural resources. A recently initiated rangeland restoration research program at the USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range is based on the following premises: (1) biological integrity of both above- and below-ground systems, in addition to the short-term establishment of desired species, is necessary to buffer against future disturbances, (2) resource redistribution over time at the community and landscape levels plays an important role in both desertification and restoration processes, (3) restoration efforts should focus on fertile sites best suited for reestablishment of the native community, and (4) planting technologies should be based on readily available "natural" dispersal systems. Current and planned research at the Jornada includes work on the role of shrub rooting patterns and soil biota (e.g., mycorrhizae, ants, and termites) in restoration, the use of animals and water as potential dispersal agents of propagules, the use of grazing animals as remediation tools, and adaptation of indigenous agricultural practices.