Time is of the Essence: 100 Years of Data Identify the Right Time to Regenerate Perennial Grasses
by Maribel Alonso, USDA ARS
May 22, 2023
Perennial grasses are economically and biologically important in the Southwest U.S. region, but the abundance of these plants can change dramatically over time. There is concern that declines in grasses are becoming more common. Why grass cover changes, however, is poorly understood. Scientists at the ARS’s Jornada Experimental Range and Army Research Laboratory in N.M. used 100 years of measurements of perennial grass growth from their Long-Term Agroecosystem Research site to identify how climate controls abrupt changes in grass cover. The study showed that both periods of extreme loss and recovery have occurred. The long-term datasets, which go back to 1915, were recently used to construct models to understand the correlation between multiple timescales of climate fluctuations and the dynamics of grass cover, land degradation, and land restoration.
Read the Ecology paper: https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecy.4065