Plants are the primary producers of life on our planet, generating over 99.9% of the Earth’s biomass. Vegetation is the biological foundation of terrestrial ecosystems and is highly influenced by environmental factors, such as soil texture, depth, and landform type. Especially as they relate to water, these influences are magnified at local scales in the Chihuahuan Desert.
Vegetation manipulation is a primary component of most biological resource management. Knowing about the status and trends of vegetation and soils can help park managers to modify vegetation to achieve goals related to wildlife management (via habitat manipulation), fire management (via fuels modification) and plant ecology (via direct or indirect changes to plant interactions). Accounting for soil dynamics provides information on management issues and stressors that may have long-term consequences for terrestrial ecosystem structure and function.
What We Monitor
- Perennial plant species and lifeform cover
- Soil cover by substrate type
- Biological soil crust cover
- Average soil aggregate stability
- Soil bulk density
Where We Monitor
- Big Bend National Park
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park
- Fort Davis National Historic Site
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park
- White Sands National Park