Insights into Vegetation Change

Jornada Basin LTER
2004 mesquite dunelands without grasses and 2008 mesquite dunelands with perennial grasses. The shift from grassland to shrubland is not the only alternative state for desert vegetation. Jornada Basin LTER research has documented: (a) shifts from desertified shrublands back towards native grassland, (b) shifts between different shrubland types, and (c) shifts from grasslands or shrublands... Read more »

Connectivity Plays a Key Role in Vegetation Dynamics

Jornada Basin LTER
Connectivity modifying structures (ConMods) trap and retain wind-transported seeds and organic material, reducing connectivity and facilitating local recruitment. Locations that are functionally connected in the landscape experience greater materials and energy transfer, which ultimately influences spatial and temporal vegetation dynamics in desert landscapes. In pilot studies, small connectivity modifying structures (ConMods) increased grasses and forbs... Read more »

Sources of Groundwater Recharge

Jornada Basin LTER
Researchers conduct fieldwork in the Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico. Using long term observations and a water balance approach, JRN LTER researchers determined that small watersheds on piedmont slopes are large contributors to groundwater recharge on the Jornada Basin. This was one of the first studies to quantify groundwater recharge in arid region first-order watersheds.... Read more »

Rodent Biomass Linked to Precipitation

Jornada Basin LTER
Kangaroo Rat Desert rodent biomass depends on an interaction between shrub cover and precipitation – more rodent biomass is associated with grasslands following droughts and with shrublands following wet years. This pattern can be largely explained by the irruption of folivores (which prefer shrubbier vegetation) during wet years and suggests that rodent population dynamics are... Read more »

The Power of “Big Data”

Jornada Basin LTER
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument Researchers at JRN LTER are incorporating machine learning into complex dataset exploration. The data exploration interface is capable of suggesting potential analytical approaches to new users based on interactions with previous users.