International Arid Lands Consortium links ecological research and practical solutions to issues in rangeland management
International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC) creates interactive educational projects to demonstrate the principles of grazing management, and investigates how animal behavior affects desert ecosystems.
July 20, 2000 (Tucson, AZ)--The International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC) leads investigations and educational projects linking ecological research and practical solutions to critical natural resource issues in the Middle East and other arid regions. Two ongoing projects focus on factors that directly affect range management practices. One project involves the creation of interactive educational projects to demonstrate the principles of grazing management, and another investigates how animal behavior affects desert ecosystems.
Ecological processes enhancing sustainable grazing in semiarid ecosystems (Agricultural Research Organization-Israel, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Ben Gurion University of the Negev)
Many people in Israel, the Middle East and other arid and semiarid regions of the world are interested in the scientific knowledge and management experience in rangeland management that have accumulated in Israel over the last fifty years. This two-year project creates a demonstration station for students, teachers, scientists and management personnel. Clients come from Israel, Palestine, and other regions of the Middle East and abroad. In-field demonstration and virtual study activities on the Internet demonstrate the principles of grazing management in an ecologically sustained system in a semiarid region.
The demonstration is based on long-term research that defines the relationship among habitat, rainfall regime, annual and perennial vegetation, grazing intensity and landscape structure in semiarid regions. The principle ecological processes in these regions are flow of water, recycling of soil nutrients and dynamics of the vegetation.
Five demonstration sites are being established on the Lehavim Experimental Farm. The first provides a general introduction to climate, geography, history, social and environmental factors. The second station highlights factors controlling primary productivity in four main habitats on the farm. The third demonstrates grazing effects on vegetation, with comparison of grazed and ungrazed plots in each of the four habitats. The fourth provides information about the Bedouin lifestyle, the economic and social importance of the herd, and how daily herding activities are carried out. The final station is an integrated model of the structure, function, and management of the Bedouin farm.
Interested parties may visit the station in person, or make a virtual visit via the Internet, which will provide information in Hebrew, Arabic and English.
Soil disturbance by animals: Soil genesis and patch dynamics (New Mexico State University, Bar-Ilan University-Israel)
American and Israeli scientists are conducting a 2.5 year research project on factors that contribute to desertification. The studies, which take place in the Chihuahan Desert of southern New Mexico and the Judean Desert in Israel, are designed to examine all types of animal soil disturbance in different landscape units (run-off areas, run-on areas, stable and unstable sand dunes, areas dominated by grasses, shrubs, exotic or alien species). By studying these processes on watersheds, investigators can evaluate the contribution of animal soil disturbance to ecosystems on the watersheds.
Soil is the most important resource for terrestrial ecosystems since it is the root environment for plants. In arid ecosystems, water and nutrients are critical resources for establishment and sustainability of vegetation. The diversity of desert vegetation is dependent on a variety of characteristics of soil. Animals that live in soil affect its productivity. Burrowing can improve water infiltration and storage. Some animals bring selected soil particles from deep underground to the surface. This behavior contributes to creation of soil with varying texture, creating an environment for desert plants to grow. Scientists address questions about the predictability of patterns of animal disturbances, erosion rates of soil from animal produced excavations, and how climate affects soil disturbance variation. These findings will lead to valuable knowledge that may influence conservation of soil and water resources, restoration of disturbed arid lands, and support of ecosystem management in arid and semi-arid lands.
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:
- 00D-05 Ecological processes enhancing sustainable grazing in semiarid ecosystems (Agricultural Research Organization-Israel, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Ben Gurion University of the Negev)
- 00R-06 Soil disturbance by animals: Soil genesis and patch dynamics (New Mexico State University, Bar-Ilan University-Israel)