Terrestrial Vegetation and Soils

Vegetation community at Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Terrestrial vegetation community at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

NPS Photo

Overview

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.

Biological soil crusts at White Sands National Monument
Biological soil crusts at White Sands National Monument

NPS

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 Monument

Publications

Read more about our terrestrial vegetation and soils work in the resource briefs (short summaries), monitoring reports (detailed results of our work), or protocol (monitoring procedures) below.

Terrestrial Vegetation and Soils Monitoring Resource Briefs

Source: Data Store Collection 3789. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

Terrestrial Vegetation and Soils Monitoring Reports

Source: Data Store Saved Search 1045. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

Terrestrial Vegetation and Soils Monitoring Protocol

Source: Data Store Saved Search 2311. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

Last updated: August 6, 2018