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Mesquite trees displacing Southwestern grasslands
Date:3/17/2012

as they are doing the experiments.

"In the outside world, we actively monitor these leaf and ecosystem level responses to environmental stress, but to truly test the spectrum of responses, sometimes you need more control than nature affords you," Barron-Gafford said.

He said that encroachment of woody plants onto former grasslands exposes the area's semi-arid landscape to a higher risk of irreversible desertification.

"If a fire runs through and burns the thick grass cover that stabilizes the soil, you end up with areas consisting mostly of dirt with mesquite and creosote bushes. The big dust storms in certain parts of Arizona are visual proof how vulnerable that type of landscape is to erosion."

Filling gaps in knowledge about what climate predictions mean for plants and animals in the region and making them accessible to land management officials is an important goal of Barron-Gafford's research. "Our great historical knowledge is not enough given future climate change scenarios and we need biological data in addition to climate data to make accurate predictions."


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Contact: Daniel Stolte
stolte@email.arizona.edu
520-626-4402
University of Arizona
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3 4 5

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Mesquite trees displacing Southwestern grasslands
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