Grasslands of central and southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and northern Mexico, an area known as the Apache Highlands Ecoregion, have undergone dramatic vegetation changes over the last 130 years, including encroachment by shrubs, loss of perennial grass cover, and spread of non-native species. Changes in grassland composition and structure have not occurred uniformly across the region and their extent and distribution are poorly understood at a regional scale. Moreover, these changes are dynamic and ongoing. The purpose of this study was to rapidly assess and characterize the extent of the vegetation changes to grasslands and to identify the best remaining native grasslands and restorable grasslands for conservation planning and ecological management purposes.
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