grazing effects


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BACKGROUND. 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. This provided the opportunity to investigate the response of vegetation with respect to landscape characteristics as well as release from grazing. This summary data set consists of percent cover of 9 species from the plant line intercept measurements on either side of the LTER-I exclosure East and West boundary fence. Data is sorted by station, species i.d., then line segment. Along the East Boundary fence, the east side is ungrazed (control) and the west side is grazed (treatment). Along the West Boundary fence, the east side is grazed and the west side is ungrazed. Each plant line transect is divided into 6 5-meter segments. All perennials were measured at about 5 year intervals as the length of intercept along a 30-meter line perpendicular to the fence. Summary data includes only four of the 6 5-meter intervals due to disturbance along fenceline. Data from the 5-meter segment on either side of the fence was not included in summarizing the data. Summary data includes only 9 of the perennial species.

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