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Author: Chloe Cromer


Co-Author/Mentor: Tim Ohlert


Presentation Type: Oral/Powerpoint

Field of Study: Desert Ecology


This research project was part of a 10-week long REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program funded through the NSF and hosted by the University of New Mexico.

The effect that vegetation change has on our soils remains a relatively understudied topic. Currently, in New Mexico and in many arid biomes around the world, grasslands are being encroached upon by woody shrubs like the Creosote bush (Larrea tridentata). The impacts of woody shrub encroachment on grassland species is rather negative; as encroachment occurs, many productive grasses decrease in abundance, leading to an overall increased rate of surface soil erosion, and a loss of integral soil nutrients and properties. In this study, we hope to reveal the specific impacts plant community composition change has on soil functions, and whether the properties of these soils can facilitate these vegetation transformations. Additionally, we want to identify specific trends within these interactions that can be used to predict future vegetation and soil dynamics within other arid biomes. As part of our methods we gathered soils across some of the plant dominated ecosystems of the Seviletta National Wildlife Refuge and tested for water holding capacity, soil stability, % bare ground, % organic matter and chlorophyll. We found in our research that there are specific soil properties attributable to the different dominant grassland species and shrubland species within the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. The conformation of these different soil properties between environmental sites helps to support the possibility for site-specific trends that could be used to hypothesize or predict the future of plant vegetation among arid dry lands.


File nameDate UploadedVisibilityFile size
19 Jul 2022
41.3 MB



  • Event location
    • Nesbitt 3212

  • Event date
    • 2 November 2019

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022