Jornada Basin, Long-Term Ecological Research Network Office

Data Center Description
The Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project focuses
on changes in the distribution of soil resources as an index of the
impact of vegetation change--desertification--on semiarid
lands. Specifically, we hypothesize that a relatively homogeneous
pattern of soil nutrients is found in areas of grassland. Various
factors leading to vegetation change alter the distribution of soil
resources, leading to the invasion and persistence of shrubs and the
development of a patchy distribution of soil nutrients. Nutrient-rich
areas that develop under shrub canopies are known as "islands of
fertility," while soil resources are lost from the adjacent
inter-shrub spaces by wind and water erosion. These changes in soil
resources have importance consequences for ecosystem function, linking
the ecosystem processes in deserts to changes in the global
environment (Schlesinger et al. l990).


[Summary provided by Jornada Basin LTER.]