A unique set of environmental conditions contributes to the abundance of grass and shrub covered rangelands in southern Arizona. But as our climate changes, it is likely that the distribution of grass and shrub on the rangeland will change too. A shift in the natural covering of the landscape could bring about a host of other changes in the rangeland ecosystem. The amount of sunlight reflected from the land, ground surface temperatures and soil moisture could be significantly altered. Some organisms might thrive; others will fail in the changing environment.
To reveal what the future might hold for the rangelands, Travis Huxman and other scientists are making observations in the field and conducting climate experiments in the huge laboratory of Biosphere 2.
Hardy grass and shrubs play a crucial role in the rangeland ecosystem.
Courtesy lars hammar via flickr.com