Grass cover for Bouteloua eriopoda through time
(Click here to see all long term graphs)

The Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research program, in collaboration with the USDA ARS Jornada Experimental Range, studies the causes and consequences of desertification: the broad scale expansion of woody plants into grasslands that results in more "desert like" conditions. We are interested in spatial and temporal variation in desertification dynamics, and how historic legacies, the geomorphic template, transport vectors (wind, water, animals), and environmental drivers (climate, land use, disturbance) interact with the patch structure of the vegetation to determine past, present, and future ecosystem dynamics across scales.

Our study site is located in the northern Chihuahuan Desert, approximately 25 km northeast of Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA (+32.5 N, -106.8 W, elevation 1188 m). Annual precipitation is 24 cm and maximum temperatures average 13 C in January and 36 C in June. Our study site includes the 78,000 ha Jornada Experimental Range operated by the USDA Agricultural Research Service, and the 22,000 ha Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center (CDRRC) operated by New Mexico State University. The Jornada Basin LTER project was established in 1982, and is administered by New Mexico State University. This site is a member of the LTER Network, one of > 25 long term sites funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.