International Arid Lands Consortium conducts research projects on biological diversity and ecosystem management
As desertification takes its toll on various dry land species around the world, projects conducted by the International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC) inform environmental decision-makers on effective management strategies.
July 6, 2000 (Tucson, AZ)-- Human activities are having an increasingly powerful effect on our environment, accelerating changes in biological diversity. Shifts in land use and climate change initiated by humans affect the distribution and abundance of species, habitats, and ecosystems. Biodiversity includes all varieties of organisms and their complex interactions with other communities and ecosystems. The International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC) conducts projects that demonstrate a clear link between ecological research and practical solutions to critical natural resource issues in the Middle East and other arid regions. IALC seeks to promote integrative and comparative research and management into the biodiversity of drylands, as demonstrated by completed and ongoing projects.
Effects of habitat fragmentation, patch alteration, and management practices on desert lizards (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, New Mexico State University)
In two related studies performed in the Negev Desert of Israel and in New Mexico, researchers are reaching better understanding of human impact on important components of arid ecosystems. These studies help to evaluate costs and benefits of current management practices in terms of effects on fauna such as desert lizards. Application of this knowledge will help environmental decision-makers to maintain sustainable management of arid lands.
Influence of savannization and brush invasion on spider diversity (Ben-Gurion University, New Mexico State University)
Two major challenges to management of arid environments include effectively arresting desertification, and restoring the environment to support biological diversity. This study compares two arid systems which have seen an increase of trees, specifically investigating how these changes affect spiders. Spiders are ideal organisms for assessing the effects of savannization because they are easy to monitor and sensitive to habitat structure. In one system, trees have been artificially added to aid diversification, in the other system, trees or large shrubs are encroaching in an arid grassland habitat. The study, conducted in Israel and in New Mexico, increases understanding of biodiversity in an arid environment, and the effect of managed and unmanaged tree enhancement on arid habitat. The findings provide data on the effects of different management practices in arid ecosystems, which will aid in developing sustainable management practices.
The effect of increased productivity on species diversity (Ben Gurion University, University of Arizona)
Through research done in the Sonoran Desert of the U.S. and in the Western Negev, IALC investigators examine how organisms react to changes in productivity through processes such as competition for resources. In a common habitat, animals must compete not only with those of their own kind, but with other species. The animals who are able to be more productive in obtaining food and reproducing tend to contribute to the elimination of other less hardy species. The results of this work lead to discovery of specific strategies for management of our changing environments.
Banner-tailed kangaroo rats and shrub invasion in desert grasslands (New Mexico State University, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)
Research conducted on kangaroo rats in the Chihuahuan Desert grassland of New Mexico contributes to knowledge of the processes involved in the conversion of desert grasslands to shrublands. Understanding exactly how a certain species can affect the environment offers insight into sustainable management of desert grassland ecosystems, which are important for livestock grazing.
The relationship among desert patchiness, resources, production and diversity: Implications for rehabilitation of desertified environments (Ben Gurion University, Station for Erosion Research,-Israel, Institute of Ecosystem Studies-New York)
This study evaluates the effects of human manipulation of desert vegetation on water flow and plant species diversity. Findings suggest that patch manipulation can be developed into a management tool to restore desertified areas and to preserve the productivity and diversity of the landscape with little or no human induced damage. In particular, the use of herbicides to control desert vegetation has been determined to be harmful over the long term, negating any short term benefits.
The International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC) is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring the problems and solutions unique to arid and semiarid regions. IALC promotes cooperative research and practical application of new knowledge to develop sustainable ecological practices. The member institutions and their affiliates share a mission to enable people of arid lands to improve the quality of life for future generations. IALC members include the University of Arizona, Desert Research Institute-Nevada, the University of Illinois, Jewish National Fund, New Mexico State University, South Dakota State University, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and the Higher Council for Science & Technology-Jordan. The Ministry of Agriculture & Land Reclamation-Egypt is an affiliate member.
Projects Addressed in this News Release:
- 99R-10, 97R-15 Effects of habitat fragmentation, patch alteration, and management practices on desert lizards (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, New Mexico State University)
- 99R-12 Influence of savannization and brush invasion on spider diversity (Ben-Gurion University, New Mexico State University)
- 99R-13 The effect of increased productivity on species diversity (Ben Gurion University, University of Arizona)
- 98R-01 Banner-tailed kangaroo rats and shrub invasion in desert grasslands (New Mexico State University, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)
- 93R-503 The relationship among desert patchiness, resources, production and diversity: Implications for rehabilitation of desertified environments (Ben Gurion University, Station for Erosion Research,-Israel, Institute of Ecosystem Studies-New York)