The grassland state is supported by empirical data, historical data and local expertise. This state is defined by two native plant communities that are a result of periodic fire, drought and grazing. These events are part of the natural disturbance regime and climatic process. The reference plant community consist of warm season dominant and cool season sub-dominant grasses. The at-risk plant community is the other plant community within the grassland state. This plant community is made up of warm and cool season grasses with decreasing amounts of alkali sacaton.
The Sod-bound state is supported by empirical data, historical data, and local expertise. This state is defined by one plant community that is a result of repetitive heavy use, no rest and recovery of the grasses, and no forage and animal balance.
The Grassland State ecosystem has been driven beyond the limits of ecological resilience and has crossed a threshold into the Sod-bound State. The designation of the Sod-bound State denotes changes in plant community composition. This change in species composition affects hydrologic function and biotic integrity of the ecosystem.
This alternative state should be treated as a hypothesis that will be tested through long-term observation of ecosystem behavior and repeated application of conservation and restoration practices. This state should be re-evaluated and refined continually.
The Grassland State ecosystem has been driven beyond the limits of ecological resilience and has crossed a threshold into the Tillage State. The designation of the Tillage State denotes changes in land use which has affected the plant community, soil inherent, and dynamic properties. Changes in soil structure, aggregate stability, content of organic matter, and species composition has negatively affected the hydrologic function, biotic integrity, and soil site stability of the site.
This alternative state should be tested through long-term observation of ecosystem behavior and repeated application of conservation and restoration practices. This state should be re-evaluated and refined continually.
The Tillage State includes two community phases that are highly variable. They are derived through two distinct management scenarios, and are not related successionally. Infiltration, runoff, and soil erosion varies depending on the vegetation present.
Long term heavy grazing without adequate recovery periods will cause this plant community to change to an inland saltgrass sod, foxtail barley plant community.
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Major Land Resource Areas
The Ecosystem Dynamics Interpretive Tool is an information system framework developed by the USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and New Mexico State University.