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Project: Transect Litter Collection Study

Project ID: 210389000
Funding Source: LTER I
Abstract:

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.

The litter fall traps are in the creosotebush zone on the upper bajada betwen the College Playa and Mt. Summerford. LTER-I Control transect, between Station C61 and C62 LTER-I Treatment transect, between Station T60 and T62

Litter is collected monthly using a CarVac vacuum run off of a rechargeable 12v battery. There are 10 30 cm2 aluminum screen baskets elevated on 3/8" rebar situated under creosote shrubs on each transect. Dry weight of total creosote litterfall per basket is recorded as well as leaf, stem, and seed fractions.