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Leaf litter cover data on 1m x 1m plots from the long-term Small Mammal Exclusion Study (SMES) at Jornada Basin LTER, 1995-2015

posted on 2023-11-30, 10:19 authored by David Lightfoot, Brandon Bestelmeyer

This data package contains leaf litter cover data from plots with various levels of herbivore exclusion on the Jornada Experimental Range. Study sites were established in 1995; one in black grama grassland and the other in creosotebush shrubland to compare the impact of herbivores on ecosystem processes between these vegetation types. Parallel studies were established at the Sevilleta LTER site (New Mexico, USA) and Mapimi Biosphere Reserve (Durango, Mexico). Each study site is 1 km by 0.5 km in area. Four replicate experimental blocks were randomly located at the grassland study site to measure vegetation responses using exclusion treatments including a) all mammalian herbivores, including cattle, lagomorphs, and rodents, b) lagomorphs and cattle only, c) cattle only, and d) control accessible to all herbivores. Because grazing cattle are excluded from the entire creosote site, only three replicate experimental blocks were randomly located there including a) all mammalian herbivores, including lagomorphs, and rodents, b) lagomorphs only, and c) control accessible to all herbivores. Thirty-six sampling points were positioned at 5.8-meter intervals on a systematically located 6 by 6 point grid within each plot. A permanent one-meter by one-meter vegetation measurement quadrat is located at each of the 36 points. Each year in spring and fall from 1995-2005, the total percent cover of leaf litter in each quadrat was estimated by summing the percent of each 10 cm square within a quadrat (including 100 10-cm squares) containing leaf litter (See methods for a detailed explanation). After 2005, sampling frequency changed to every 5 years. This study is ongoing.

Resources in this dataset:


Agricultural Research Service

National Science Foundation, DEB-1832194


Data contact name

Data Manager

Data contact email


Environmental Data Initiative (EDI)

Use limitations

This information is released under the Creative Commons license - Attribution - CC BY ( The consumer of these data ("Data User" herein) is required to cite it appropriately in any publication that results from its use. The Data User should realize that these data may be actively used by others for ongoing research and that coordination may be necessary to prevent duplicate publication. The Data User is urged to contact the authors of these data if any questions about methodology or results occur. Where appropriate, the Data User is encouraged to consider collaboration or co-authorship with the authors. The Data User should realize that misinterpretation of data may occur if used out of context of the original study. While substantial efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of data and associated documentation, complete accuracy of data sets cannot be guaranteed. All data are made available "as is." The Data User should be aware, however, that data are updated periodically and it is the responsibility of the Data User to check for new versions of the data. The data authors and the repository where these data were obtained shall not be liable for damages resulting from any use or misinterpretation of the data. Thank you.

Temporal Extent Start Date


Temporal Extent End Date



  • Not specified

Geographic Coverage


Geographic location - description

Smes Creosotebush (site=c) Site Is Located In The West Bajada Area. Contact The Data Manager For More Precise Study Coordinates.

ISO Topic Category

  • farming
  • environment
  • biota
  • climatologyMeteorologyAtmosphere
  • geoscientificInformation

Ag Data Commons Group

  • Jornada Experimental Range
  • Long-Term Agroecosystem Research

National Agricultural Library Thesaurus terms

agroecosystems; rangelands; sustainable agricultural intensification

OMB Bureau Code

  • 005:18 - Agricultural Research Service

OMB Program Code

  • 005:040 - National Research

ARS National Program Number

  • 216

Pending citation

  • No

Public Access Level

  • Public

Preferred dataset citation

Lightfoot, David; Bestelmeyer, Brandon (2019). Leaf litter cover data on 1m x 1m plots from the long-term Small Mammal Exclusion Study (SMES) at Jornada Basin LTER, 1995-2015. Environmental Data Initiative (EDI).