In the spring of 1982, as part of the establishment of the Jornada Long-Term Ecological Research site in southern New Mexico, a 135 ha portion of a 1500 ha, internally drained, watershed was exclosed from grazing by domestic livestock. Prior to exclosure the watershed, as well as the rest of the Jornada basin, had been moderately to heavily grazed for the past 100 years.
Concurrent with grazing, the vegetation had undergone a dramatic change from desert grassland, with an almost continuous cover of C4 perennial grasses, to isolated patches of the original grassland in a mosaic with desert shrub dominated plant communities (Buffington and Herbel, 1965). The exclosure lies along a northeast facing piedmont slope at the base of a steep isolated mountain peak, and covers a variety of component landforms from the foot of the mountain to the basin floor. The northeast side of the exclosure is immediately upslope of the College Playa located near the NMSU College Ranch. Three parallel transects (2.7 km in length) run from the middle of the College Playa up into the foot of Mt. Summerford. The Control transect is to the west, the Treatment transect on the east side of the Control transect, and the Alternate Control to the east of the Treatment transect. Each transect is 30 meters wide with a 45 meter buffer zone between each transect. The Treatment transect was treated annually until 1987 with NHNO3 in a concentration equal to 10g N/m2. The station markers at 30 meter intervals along each transect. Perpendicular to each transect and crossing at each station marker is the 30 meter plant line intercept transect. This extends 15 meters on either side of the station marker. The ends of the plant line intercept transect are marker by short rebar sticking up about 6 inches aboveground. The plant line intercept transects are thus perpendicular to the direction of major drainage flow. Leaf weight-per-unit area of Larrea tridentata from creosote zone on LTER-I Control and Treatment transects was calculated. Litter used was collected from 4 litter baskets placed under each of 10 bushes on Control Transect and also the Treatment transect. Litter was from month of October litterfall. Thirty whole leaves were picked from each bush, dry weight obtained, soaked in H20 to soften, flattened, and run through area meter.