Climatic/edaphic controls on soil carbon/nitrogen response to shrub encroachment in desert grassland.
The Santa Rita Experimental Range is 100 years old this year, providing an occasion to celebrate and to reflect. The first of many experimental ranges in the United States, the Santa Rita was founded at a time when both range science and plant ecology were in their infancy. The purpose was to conduct research that would aid in the management of Southwestern rangelands by public agencies and private ranchers, in the belief that science, coordinated by public agencies and conducted on a suitably large scale, would produce methods of restoring and conserving the vast and severely degraded rangelands of the region more quickly and effectively than a private, trial-and-error approach could. Confidence in the ability of government science to solve pressing public problems was characteristic of the era, giving birth not only to the Santa Rita but also to range science more generally and to an array of Federal agencies. To assess a century of work on the Santa Rita, at least two questions must be answered: (1) What happened on the experimental range itself, in terms of research and recommendations for management? And (2) what effects did this work have on rangelands in the region? The historical record is abundant regarding the first question, but comparatively thin as to the second. I begin by reviewing the circumstances surrounding the creation of the Santa Rita Experimental Range. Then I use the more than 400 publications produced from the Santa Rita to define four major periods of research from 1901