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Runoff, erosion, and restoration studies in piñon-juniper woodlands of the Pajarito Plateau

New Mexico Decision-Makers Field Guide

By:
ORCID iD
Edited by:
Peggy S. Johnson

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Abstract

Piñon-juniper woodlands are one of the most extensive vegetation types in New Mexico, including large portions of the Pajarito Plateau. The woodland soils on local mesas largely formed under different vegetation during cooler, moister conditions of the late Pleistocene; in other words, they are over 10,000 years old, and many are over 100,000 years old (McFadden et al., 1996). Changes in climate and vegetation in the early Holocene (8,500– 6,000 years ago) led to at least localized episodes of soil erosion on adjoining uplands (Reneau and McDonald, 1996; Reneau et al., 1996). During this time, the dominant climatic and associated vegetation patterns of the modern southwestern United States developed, including grasslands, piñon-juniper woodlands, and ponderosa pine savannas (Allen et al., 1998). On the basis of local fire history, the young ages of most piñon-juniper trees here, and soils data, we believe that many upland mesa areas now occupied by dense piñon-juniper woodlands were formerly more open, with fewer trees and well-developed herbaceous understories that: (1) protected the soil from excessive erosion during intense summer thunderstorm events, and (2) provided a largely continuous fuel matrix, which allowed surface fires to spread and maintain these vegetation types (Fig. 1). In contrast, rocky canyon walls have probably changed relatively little through the centuries, as grazing and fire suppression had fewer effects on such sites.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Book chapter
Publication Subtype:
Book Chapter
Title:
Runoff, erosion, and restoration studies in piñon-juniper woodlands of the Pajarito Plateau
Series title:
New Mexico Decision-Makers Field Guide
ISBN:
1-883905-08-7
Volume:
1
Year Published:
2001
Language:
English
Publisher:
New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources
Publisher location:
Socorro, NM
Contributing office(s):
Fort Collins Science Center
Description:
3 p.
Larger Work Type:
Book
Larger Work Subtype:
Handbook
Larger Work Title:
Water, watersheds, and land use in New Mexico: Impacts of population growth on natural resources Santa Fe region 2001
First page:
24
Last page:
26
Country:
United States
State:
New Mexico
Online Only (Y/N):
N
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
N