Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Understanding And Predicting Desertification: Researchers Offer New Insights On Arid, Semiarid Landscapes

Date:
June 5, 2006
Source:
New Mexico State University
Summary:
A team of researchers in New Mexico has developed a multi-faceted process to study arid and semiarid landscapes that takes into account the wide range of factors influencing changes that can result in desertification.

John Anderson, research site manager with the Jornada Long Term Ecological Research project, measures plant biomass production on the Jornada Experimental Range. Research scientists at the range are tracking the process of desertification on the once widespread grassland.
Credit: J. Victor Espinoza

A team of researchers has developed a multi-faceted process to study arid and semiarid landscapes that takes into account the wide range of factors influencing changes that can result in desertification.

Related Articles


Led by Debra Peters, research scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service at the Jornada Experimental Range in southern New Mexico, the team of USDA and New Mexico State University researchers published their findings in the June 2006 issue of BioScience. The article is titled "Disentangling Complex Landscapes: New Insights Into Arid and Semiarid System Dynamics."

Almost 40 percent of the Earth's surface and 20 percent of the world's population are found in regions that are under threat from desertification, which can result in the loss of grass and degradation of soil as grasslands are converted into woody-plant-dominated landscapes.

Although many research methods exist to study various facets of this process, more complete understanding of desertification can be achieved by looking back in time at historic legacies, considering environmental factors and studying soil, typography and soil parent material. Also considered is the influence of wind, water and animals as they transport water, nutrients, soil particles, plant litter and seeds. The redistribution of those resources also is weighed in the landscape reorganization.

"Previously we looked at small areas and used that information to make guesses about the large area, to extrapolate to the big area, and that doesn't work very well when things are really complex," Peters said. "And so then we shifted to say, really, the complexity is what's interesting and important."

The researchers offer a six-step operational scheme to unravel the complex influences of these variables. The first step is to "look up" to assess the broad scale, then "look back" in time to determine the role of past events on the present landscape. Third, "look around" to consider adjacent spaces and the influence of wind, water and animals as connecting transport vectors. "Look down" to determine fine-scale properties and processes of the landscape, then integrate the information from broad scale to fine scale to determine the most important influences. Finally, "look forward" in time to the effects of variable environmental factors from the current landscape to the future.

Members of the research team also are part of the Jornada Basin LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) project funded by the National Science Foundation. They will now move into experiments and computer modeling to confirm their findings, integrate the information and make future predictions.

The Jornada Experimental Range is located in the northern portion of the Chihuahuan Desert, the largest desert in North America.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by New Mexico State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

New Mexico State University. "Understanding And Predicting Desertification: Researchers Offer New Insights On Arid, Semiarid Landscapes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 June 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060604112000.htm>.
New Mexico State University. (2006, June 5). Understanding And Predicting Desertification: Researchers Offer New Insights On Arid, Semiarid Landscapes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060604112000.htm
New Mexico State University. "Understanding And Predicting Desertification: Researchers Offer New Insights On Arid, Semiarid Landscapes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060604112000.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) — A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins