Last modified: Wednesday, 23-Jan-2013 11:46:34 MST

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Spring 2014 Graduate Class: Ecology of Savannas, Shrublands & Woodlands

(click here for more information)

Ecosystems comprised of co-occurring herbaceous and woody plants form a continuum between grasslands with little woody vegetation and forests with nearly complete coverage of woody plants. These systems, variously referred to as savannas, shrublands, parklands, and woodlands, represent a substantial portion of the terrestrial biosphere. This course examines how woody and herbaceous life forms in such systems interact; how their interactions are influenced by climate, soils, and disturbances such as herbivory (e.g., grazing, browsing) and fire; and how changes in the relative abundance of grasses, shrubs and trees affect ecosystem processes and wildlife habitat. The concepts and principles covered in this class will be broadly applicable to the conservation and progressive management of dryland ecosystems characterized by dynamic mixtures of herbaceous and woody vegetation.


Local Research News

photo: Nate Pierce
Nate Pierce received a Science Foundation Arizona Graduate Research Fellow award for the 2011-12 academic year. As part of his award, Nate will collaborate with educational professionals in the development of activities aimed at incorporating science and technology (specifically natural resources ecology and management) into K-12 classes.

Dr. Archer and colleagues recently completed an analysis of the impact of shrub proliferation in arid and semi-arid regions on the North American Carbon Cycle. Their work (Barger et al. 2011) is part of the North American Carbon Program and will appear in a special issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences slated for release in Autumn 2011.


Desert Grasslands in Transition:

Project Sage: The Santa Rita Experimental Range

The Santa Rita Experimental Range: A Century of Sustainability



photo: Steve Woods

Steve Woods awarded grant to study "Influences of Society, Politics and Local Knowledge on Ranch Management." Steve is a PhD candidate in Arid Lands.


National/Global Research News

NSF Project takes a new look at decomposition in drylands

Steve Archer and Dave Breshears are teaming up with Paul Barnes (Loyola University-New Orleans), Rebecca McCulley (University of Keytucky) and Heather Throop (New Mexico State University) to look at how photodegradation and erosion interact to influence decomposition in arid ecosystems


USA National Phenology Network



Livestock in a Changing Landscape(.pdf)

The rapid increase of intensive (confined) livestock production and the land and livelihood needs of extensive production (rangeland grazing) are crucial challenges. The livestock sector emerges as a very significant contributor to environmental problems at every scale from local to global, including land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and pollution and loss of biodiversity. Formulating responses to the wide range of consequences remains a complex task, but there are many promising solutions.


Miscellaneous News


Dr. Archer co-led Chapter 5 "Desertification of Rangelands' with Deb Peters in this book. This chapter offers a perspective from a transdisciplinary team of ecological, earth system and social scientists from 6 different universities and two different federal agencies.


U of A faculty, staff and students can obtain statistical advice at no charge through the Statistical Consulting course (STAT 688). This course is taught by Dean Billheimer PhD, during the Fall 2012 semester. In addition to providing statistical assistance to the campus community, the goal of the course is to introduce scientifically relevant problems to the statistics and biostatistics graduate students outside the classroom setting.

You can find out more at theStatistics Consulting Laboratory.

photo: Book Cover  

Rangeland ecosystems support half of the world’s livestock while also providing habitats for some of the most charismatic of wildlife species. This book examines the pressures on rangeland ecosystems worldwide from human land use, over-hunting, and subsistence and commercial farming of livestock and crops. Leading experts have pooled their experiences from all continents to cover the ecological, sociological, political, veterinary, and economic aspects of rangeland management today.

* The first book to examine rangelands from a conservation perspective

* Emphasizes the balance between the needs of people and livestock, and wildlife

* Written by an international team of experts covering all geographical regions

* Examines ecological, sociological, political, veterinary, and economic aspects of rangeland management and wildland conservation, providing a diversity of perspectives not seen before in a single volume

Dr. Archer authored Chapter 4 "Rangeland conservation and shrub encroachment: new perspectives on an old problem.


photo: Book Cover  

Dr. Archer collaborated with Tom Boutton (Texas A&M), Julia Liao (Rice), and Tim Filley (Purdue) on a chapter in this new book entitled "Belowground Carbon Storage and Dynamics Accompanying Woody Plant Encroachment in a Subtropical Savanna."


photo: Book Cover  

The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity in the United States
US Climate Change Science Program releases Synthesis & Assessment Product 4.3

Dr. Archer worked with Cliff Dahm (U New Mexico), Travis Huxman (U Arizona), Greg Okin (UCLA),  & Bill Schlesinger (Carey Institute of Ecosystem Studies) to develop the Arid Lands section of the Land Resources chapter.


photo: Book Cover  

Western North American Juniperus Communities
A Dynamic Vegetation Type Series: Ecological Studies, Vol. 196. Van Auken, Oscar (Ed.)

Dr. Archer co-authored Chapter 12:  "The combined influence of grazing, fire, and herbaceous productivity on tree–grass interactions" with Sam Fuhlendorf (Oklahoma State), Dave Engle (Iowa State) and Fred Smeins & Charles Taylor (Texas A&M)