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Old 06-11-2011, 08:26 AM
38 posts, read 55,149 times
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I've heard that a lot of the Desert Southwest used to be wooded, but the Native Americans de-forested it, such as at Chaco Canyon. Do you think a lot of the desert lands used to be very slow growing forests? Or can trees just not grow there period?

Old 06-11-2011, 10:17 AM
Location: US Empire, Pac NW
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The southwest has scrubland in the lowlands but trees can grow there where there's access to underground aquifers. The highlands can also gather enough moisture from the air at night to moisturize enough of the plants to have small trees growing. Then there's the highland pine forests. I wasn't expecting that in Arizona, but hey, there they were!
Old 06-11-2011, 12:27 PM
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
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The definition used to define 'desert' is based on yearly rainfall amounts. I believe that >10 inches/year qualifies land as a desert.

The type of desert (Chihuahuan, Sonoran, etc.) is defined by the dominant ecology, mainly plant-life in said desert.

Very few tree species can survive such little rainfall, so as a general rule, no, forests will mot develop on those lands. The cause of deforestation on the Colorado Plateau where Chaco is located was caused by a long term climate change. The area is significantly drier than it once was.

There is some desert 'forest' in New Mexico comprised of shrub-form Junipers that grow to a height of about 10 - 15 feet tall, widely spaced. This occurs at the higher end of the rainfall spectrum bordering on semi-arid rather than true desert.

Last edited by JMT; 06-14-2011 at 07:28 AM.. Reason: Copyright violation
Old 06-13-2011, 12:39 AM
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,523,609 times
Reputation: 35864
Here---read this:

Climax vegetation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It's only about eight lines long, and in sixty seconds, you can quadruple all you have ever known about bio-grography.
Old 06-14-2011, 06:59 AM
Location: NJ
15,901 posts, read 10,954,801 times
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Ask Israel.
Old 06-14-2011, 07:24 AM
Location: zone 5
7,330 posts, read 12,544,110 times
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I see the OP is no longer a member, so I can't ask where he "heard" that the Native Americans de-forested the Southwest, but I'm pretty sure that's not the case.
Old 06-14-2011, 12:11 PM
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
14,933 posts, read 16,520,894 times
Reputation: 28705
There are some specific areas in the Southwest that were indeed deforested by the Natives to increase habitat for their prey. As a percentage of total forested land, the size of these areas is negligible, however.

The main thing that de-forested the Southwest was climate change. In the last post-glacial period, much of New Mexico was covered in pine and fir forest, species that today are relegated to higher mountain slopes. There were also several lakes that are now salt flats. It was the increasing drying and warming of the Southwest that compelled the Anasazi to abandon their marginal locations like Chaco for the more consistently watered Rio Grande valley.
Old 06-14-2011, 09:57 PM
Location: West Cobb County, GA (Atlanta metro)
9,190 posts, read 29,570,003 times
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Please see the room sticky for what is, and what is not, on topic for this room.
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