Rangeland research in the Chihuahuan Desert

TitleRangeland research in the Chihuahuan Desert
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsEstell RE, Havstad K, Anderson D.M., Barrow J.R., Coffin D.P., Fredrickson E.L., Herrick JE, Hyder P.W.
Conference NameNew Mexico Livestock Research Briefs and Cattle Growers’ Short Course
Date Published1999
ARIS Log Number100645
AbstractThe mission of the Jornada Experimental Range is to develop new technologies for the management and remediation of desert rangelands. Effects of stressors such as drought, soil nutrient depletion and shrub competition on grassland/shrubland ecosystems are being examined. A study is in progress to examine responses of desert ecosystems to fire and the influence of cattle grazing during post-fire recovery on these responses. Several plant and soil-based indicators of ecosystem function have been identified that are being incorporated into a manual for use in monitoring rangelands. Low input/trigger site strategies are being developed for remediation of rangelands. Experiments are underway to evaluate application of dairy manure on different plant communities and effects of portable shade on cattle distribution. A study conducted in which lambs were reared in pens with slatted or solid panels indicated lambs reared in simple environments had difficulty learning new food seeking behaviors and were more stressed in new environments. We have begun to examine the use of fluorometry to improve the accuracy and speed of diet analysis. Preliminary research indicated it could be used to distinguish among fecal samples from sheep consuming simple diets. We are studying the relationship of secondary chemistry of desert shrubs and livestock herbivory. Two of the eleven terpenes that were negatively related to tarbush intake in previous studies decreased intake of alfalfa by lambs. Determining which compounds deter herbivory will help establish methods to alter diet selectivity by livestock.