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Tipping Points

JRN scientists discovered the mechanisms by which grasslands, shrublands, and other ecosystems cross 'tipping points,' or thresholds in which dramatic and rapid changes can occur. A better understanding of these thresholds is paramount to management and protection of grasslands and other ecosystems.

Bestelmeyer BT. 2006. Threshold concepts and their use in rangeland management and restoration: the good, the bad, and the insidious. Restoration Ecology 14: 325-329
Bestelmeyer BT, Tugel AJ, Peacock GL, Robinett DG, Shaver PL, Brown JR, Herrick JE, Sanchez H, Havstad KM. 2009. State-and-transition models for heterogeneous landscapes: a strategy for development and application. Rangeland Ecology and Management 62: 1-15.
Peters DPC, Pielke RA Sr, Bestelmeyer BT, Allen CD, Munson-McGee S, Havstad KM. 2004. Cross scale interactions, nonlinearities, and forecasting catastrophic events. Proceedings National Academy Sciences 101:15130-15135.
Dr. Debra P.C. Peters
A grassland at the tipping point near the Jornada LTER site in the mid 1930s
USDA ARS, Jornada Experimental Range archive
Long-term data and vegetation maps from the JRN LTER show thresholds (shown by change in slope of line) in the increase in areal extent of shrubs and decrease in perennial grasses through time. Thresholds occur when the dominant process driving shrub expansion changes, from biotic (recruitment in early 1900s and clonal expansion between 1935-1985) to physical (wind erosion and deposition) leading to dune formation beginning in 1985.
Peters et al. (2004)



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