Research Ecologist U.S. Geological Survey Moab, UT, United States
Drylands are characterized by variability at multiple scales. Highly variable climate, parent material, and soil characteristics result in varied plant and soil community composition, ground cover, and function across a landscape. This variability, and the resultant lack of soil organic matter and biomass accumulation, make dryland regions susceptible to disturbance and difficult to restore. As the climate becomes more variable, the ecological and biogeochemical outcomes become even more challenging to predict. Here, we explore how drylands compare to other ecosystem types, the unique challenges of variability in restoration, and ways restoration actions can manipulate heterogeneity to achieve desired restoration outcomes.