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Transport vectors as drivers of dryland decomposition JRN Personnel: Heather Throop (NMSU), Steve Archer (University of Arizona), Greg Okin
 

Summary: Transport vectors as drivers of dryland decomposition
JRN Personnel: Heather Throop (NMSU), Steve Archer (University of Arizona), Greg Okin
(UCLA), Curtis Monger (NMSU), Hanna Lee (NMSU postdoc), Dan Hewins (NMSU PhD
student), Jane Smith (PhD student), Majd Abu-Salem (NMSU MS student), Jessica
Fitzgerald (NMSU REU undergraduate)
Decomposition of organic material is a fundamental driver of ecosystem processes. Research
on decomposition has therefore been a component of the Jornada LTER program since its
inception. While decay rates in mesic systems are generally quite successfully predicted by
models driven by climatic variables, Whitford et al. {, 1981 #1646} pointed out a disconnect
between measured and modeled decay rates in dryland ecosystems. This fundamental lack of
understanding of the controls over decomposition in drylands remains today (reviewed in
Throop and Archer 2009). However, recent research suggests two key drivers have been
historically overlooked: UV photodegradation and soil transport processes, both a function of
vegetation structure. Thus, cross-scale interactions are strongly at play in dryland
decomposition, with patch structure influencing soil and plant material transport vectors and
subsequent decomposition dynamics.
Our current work on
decomposition at the Jornada
LTER arose from work in the
Sonoran Desert, where we found

  

Source: Archer, Steven R. - Savanna/Woodland Ecology Lab., School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona

 

Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology