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Rangeland Production in a Variable Climate - 5005

Principal Investigator: Katharine Suding, University of Colorado, Boulder

Collaborator: Lauren Hallet, University of California, Berkeley

This research is a step towards better understanding the interactive controls of rangeland resilience to rainfall variability. We have made much progress over the last decade in understanding implications of rainfall variability, and the changes in soil water status it will produce, for the biogeochemical cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and other essential elements. The changes in the storage and cycling of soil C and N are complex due to the diversity and interactive native of the controls related to soil water. This complexity makes management approaches that focus on resilience often reliant on uncertain or anecdotal mechanisms. Here, we focus a potential key resilience mechanism – the ability of the functional composition to track and match rainfall regimes -- that is both tractable for management and relates to an archetypical pattern of “forb” and “grass” years in California annual rangelands.