Monday, February 03, 2014

Range Monitoring on Chihuahan Desert Grasslands

We helped out with a long-term monitoring project at a ranch in Southwestern New Mexico.

Diverse plots contained upwards of 30 perennial grass and forb species, plus half a dozen shrubs.  Degraded areas might contain only three or four annual, weedy species.  We found evidence of ecosystem engineers like termites and banner-tailed kangaroo rats.  Also, the remains of last year's grasshoppers were thick in the better grasslands.  Interestingly, the only mole we found was in the one of the most degraded sites, an area with only sparse annual grasses -- not much roots for a mole to munch!

Reading a vegetation transect line in a thick Giant Sacaton (Sporobolus wrightii) flat.  More photos.  

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