Biological feedbacks in global desertification

William H. Schlesinger, James F. Reynolds, Gary L. Cunningham, Laura F Huenneke, Wesley M. Jarrell, Ross A. Virginia, Walter G. Whitford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1674 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Studies of ecosystem processes on the Jornada Experimental Range in southern New Mexico suggest that long-term grazing of semiarid grasslands leads to an increase in the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of water, nitrogen, and other soil resources. Heterogeneity of soil resources promotes invasion by desert shrubs, which leads to a further localization of soil resources under shrub canopies. In the barren area between shrubs, soil fertility is lost by erosion and gaseous emissions. This positive feedback leads to the desertification of formerly productive land in southern New Mexico and in other regions, such as the Sahel. Future desertification is likely to be exacerbated by global climate warming and to cause significant changes in global biogeochemical cycles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1043-1048
Number of pages6
JournalScience
Volume247
Issue number4946
StatePublished - Mar 2 1990
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

desertification
shrub
biogeochemical cycle
soil fertility
global climate
warming
desert
grazing
grassland
canopy
erosion
ecosystem
nitrogen
soil resource
water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Cite this

Schlesinger, W. H., Reynolds, J. F., Cunningham, G. L., Huenneke, L. F., Jarrell, W. M., Virginia, R. A., & Whitford, W. G. (1990). Biological feedbacks in global desertification. Science, 247(4946), 1043-1048.

Biological feedbacks in global desertification. / Schlesinger, William H.; Reynolds, James F.; Cunningham, Gary L.; Huenneke, Laura F; Jarrell, Wesley M.; Virginia, Ross A.; Whitford, Walter G.

In: Science, Vol. 247, No. 4946, 02.03.1990, p. 1043-1048.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Schlesinger, WH, Reynolds, JF, Cunningham, GL, Huenneke, LF, Jarrell, WM, Virginia, RA & Whitford, WG 1990, 'Biological feedbacks in global desertification', Science, vol. 247, no. 4946, pp. 1043-1048.
Schlesinger WH, Reynolds JF, Cunningham GL, Huenneke LF, Jarrell WM, Virginia RA et al. Biological feedbacks in global desertification. Science. 1990 Mar 2;247(4946):1043-1048.
Schlesinger, William H. ; Reynolds, James F. ; Cunningham, Gary L. ; Huenneke, Laura F ; Jarrell, Wesley M. ; Virginia, Ross A. ; Whitford, Walter G. / Biological feedbacks in global desertification. In: Science. 1990 ; Vol. 247, No. 4946. pp. 1043-1048.
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