The Sevilleta LTER supports a long-term, integrated, interdisciplinary research program addressing key hypotheses on pattern and process in aridland ecosystems. Sevilleta LTER research includes studies in desert grassland and shrubland communities, and riparian and mountain forests emphasizing pulse driven processes in space and time. Key drivers (e.g., climate, fire, water, resource availability) govern dynamics in each landscape component. Our focus on how biotic and abiotic drivers affect spatial and temporal dynamics of aridland ecosystems allows us to conduct long-term research that addresses important basic theories and yet has significant relevance to regional, national and international priorities.
The Sevilleta LTER Project is located about 80 kilometers south of Albuquerque, New Mexico, in and around the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR). The Refuge, which is managed by the US Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, and its surroundings, are positioned at the intersection of several major biotic zones: Chihuahuan Desert grassland and shrubland to the south, Great Plains grassland to the north, Piñon-Juniper woodland in the upper elevations of the neighboring mountains, Colorado Plateau shrub-steppe to the west, and riparian vegetation along the middle Rio Grande Valley.
Because of the confluence of these major biotic zones, the Sevilleta NWR presents an ideal setting to investigate how climate variability and environmental change act together to affect ecosystem dynamics at biotic transition zones. Moreover, the rapid growth and expansion of the City of Albuquerque and its suburbs to the north increasingly will have an impact on ecosystem processes at the Sevilleta, and these urban forces will interact with climatic variation to catalyze change in this aridland region.