The late Dr. Clifford S. Crawford established the Sevilleta’s Schoolyard LTER Program which funds an educational outreach program known locally as the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program (BEMP). The major focus of the program is to monitor key indicators of structural and functional change in the Middle Rio Grande riparian cottonwood forest ('bosque') corridor through central New Mexico, including the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge.
Plant phenology or life-history pattern changes seasonally as plants grow, mature, flower, and produce fruit and seeds. Plant phenology follows seasonal patterns, yet annual variation may occur due to annual differences in the timing of rainfall and ambient temperature shifts. Foliage growth and fruit and seed production are important aspects of plant population dynamics and food resource availability for animals. The purpose of this study is to assess plant phenology patterns across a series of biotic communities that represent an environmental moisture gradient.
The primary objective of this study is to examine the control that substrate quality and climate have on patterns of long-term decomposition and nitrogen accumulation in above- and below-ground fine litter. Of particular interest will be to examine the degree these two factors control the formation of stable organic matter and nitrogen after extensive decay.