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).