Scales of pattern and process in the management of the Chihuahuan Desert biodiversity

TitleScales of pattern and process in the management of the Chihuahuan Desert biodiversity
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsBestelmeyer BT, Peters DC, Havstad K
Conference Name11th Annual Conference, The Wildlife Society
Date PublishedSeptember 18-22,
Conference LocationCalgary, Alberta, Canada
ARIS Log Number163862
Keywordsapproaches, biodiversity, Chihuahuan Desert, cross-scale
AbstractIn the Chihuahuan Desert concern about both the loss of biodiversity and economic productivity centers on the loss of grasslands and their transition to shrublands (i.e., desertification). Decades of research on this process have emphasized relatively fine scales. Although this was a necessary step, alone it is insufficient to explain instances and broader patterns of change. Furthermore, these processes have been only tenuously linked to biodiversity. We describe recent conceptual and empirical approaches to describing the process of transition based on cross-scale interactions between grass-shrub relationships and losses of grass in patches, between-patch connectivity and interactions with climate forcing functions, and landscape to regional-level feedbacks to climate. These processes create nonlinear changes in time and space such that different processes are important at particular times and spatial locations. This notion has important implications for monitoring and management. The variety of dynamics and patterns in vegetation and soils these processes create drive spatial and temporal variation in biodiversity. We discuss ongoing work to link ecosystem models to biodiversity data and to integrate management strategies based on rangeland and wildlife concerns.