Social-biophysical feedbacks and land change in an arid rangeland region

TitleSocial-biophysical feedbacks and land change in an arid rangeland region
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsBestelmeyer BT, Skaggs R.K
Conference Name93rd Ecological Society of America Annual Meetings
Date PublishedAugust 3, 2008
Conference LocationMilwaukee, WI
ARIS Log Number230408
Keywordshuman, human-domiated, vegetationchange
AbstractStudies of human-dominated ecosystems have traditionally externalized human agents and their behavior. Rangelands of the southwestern U.S. are no exception: in spite of century-long studies of vegetation change, the specific role of human decisions and their feedbacks with land condition are unknown. It is likely that prevention of future land degradation as well as opportunities for restoration will depend largely on our ability to manipulate these feedbacks. To support this perspective, we undertook a region-scale study of the relationships between the geophysical setting, land condition, and the history and current attributes of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) grazing allotments in south-central New Mexico. National Cooperative Soil Survey soil maps coupled to Ecological Site Descriptions were used to characterize the geophysical setting and inherent resilience, expert-supported, remote-sensed maps of vegetation states were used to characterize land condition, and BLM allotment records were used to characterize human dimensions variables including frequency of allotment turnover, the sense of impermanence, agency conflict, ranch type (trophy or dependent family) and management type (cautious vs. incautious). BLM allotment polygons were then attributed with human dimensions and geophysical/land condition data for analysis.