The Jornada Basin LTER (JRN LTER) is a collaborative research program funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF). The goal of the JRN LTER is to understand and quantify the factors and processes controlling ecosystem dynamics and vegetation change in Chihuahuan desert landscapes.

Jornada video seminar series

Stephanie Bestelmeyer talks about connecting Jornada science and the K-12 community.

 

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The Chihuahuan desert extends from southcentral New Mexico, USA to the state of Zacatecas, Mexico, comprising 36% of North American desert land. Our study site includes the 78,266 hectare Jornada Experimental Range operated by the USDA Agricultural Research Service, and the 25,900 hectare Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center (CDRRC) operated by New Mexico State University. Similar to desert ecosystems around the world, the Chihuahuan desert landscape has experienced dramatic changes in vegetation structure and ecosystem function over the past several centuries in part due to extensive grazing and changes in climate. Whereas grassland comprised more than 60 percent percent of the landscape on the Jornada in the mid 1800’s, less than 10 percent is currently covered in grassland. However, Jornada researchers are challenging paradigms that the typical shift from grassland to shrubland found in desert landscapes is always inevitable and irreversible. Instead, triggers such as grazing or precipitation interact with wind, water and other resources across a geomorphic template to affect ecosystem dynamics at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Since 40% of the world is covered in drylands, the ability to predict ecosystem changes in these systems has worldwide implications for the many people that use the goods and services that drylands provide.