Debra P C Peters

Debra P C Peters
United States Department of Agriculture | USDA · Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

Ph.D.

About

256
Publications
47,218
Reads
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11,418
Citations
Additional affiliations
October 2013 - September 2017
United States Department of Agriculture
Position
  • Consultant
January 2002 - present
New Mexico State University
Position
  • Affiliate Faculty
January 1998 - present
United States Department of Agriculture

Publications

Publications (256)
Article
Full-text available
Long-term observations and experiments in diverse drylands reveal how ecosystems and services are responding to climate change. To develop generalities about climate change impacts at dryland sites, we compared broadscale patterns in climate and synthesized primary production responses among the eight terrestrial, nonforested sites of the United St...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Grassland‐to‐shrubland state change has been widespread in arid lands globally. Long‐term records at the Jornada Basin USDA‐LTER site in the North American Chihuahuan Desert document the time series of transition from grassland dominance in the 1850s to shrubland dominance in the 1990s. This broadscale change ostensibly resulted from lives...
Article
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The invasive perennial grass Eragrostis lehmanniana has expanded rapidly throughout the Sonoran Desert (SD) while remaining sparse and patchily distributed in the neighboring Chihuahuan Desert (CD). As temperatures and patterns in precipitation change, identifying the drivers limiting spread in the CD is needed. Our objectives were (1) to identify...
Article
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Ecology and the climate provide two perspectives of the same biogeophysical system at all spatiotemporal scales More effectively embracing this congruence is an opportunity to improve scientific understanding and predictions as well as for a more effective policy that integrates both the bottom-up community, business-driven framework, and the popul...
Article
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Vesicular stomatitis (VS) is the most common vesicular livestock disease in North America. Transmitted by direct contact and by several biting insect species, this disease results in quarantines and animal movement restrictions in horses, cattle and swine. As changes in climate drive shifts in geographic distributions of vectors and the viruses the...
Article
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Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) emerges periodically from its focus of endemic transmission in southern Mexico to cause epizootics in livestock in the US. The ecology of VSV involves a diverse, but largely undefined, repertoire of potential reservoir hosts and invertebrate vectors. As part of a larger program to decipher VSV transmission, we condu...
Article
Full-text available
Vesicular stomatitis (VS) is an arthropod‐borne viral disease that negatively impacts domestic livestock and wildlife hosts, and economically impacts both private animal owners and the commercial livestock industry. Previous phylogenetic studies, based on partial P gene sequences, suggested that outbreak cycles of the virus (VSV) exhibit a two‐phas...
Article
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Mosquito-borne West Nile virus (WNV) is the causative agent of West Nile disease in humans, horses, and some bird species. Since the initial introduction of WNV to the United States (US), approximately 30,000 horses have been impacted by West Nile neurologic disease and hundreds of additional horses are infected each year. Research describing the d...
Article
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In drylands, most studies of extreme precipitation events examine effects of individual years or short-term events, yet multiyear periods (>3 y) are expected to have larger impacts on ecosystem dynamics. Our goal was to take advantage of a sequence of multiple long-term (4-y) periods (dry, wet, average) that occurred naturally within a 26-y time fr...
Article
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Vesicular stomatitis (VS) is a vector-borne livestock disease caused by vesicular stomatitis New Jersey virus (VSNJV) or vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus (VSIV). The disease circulates endemically in northern South America, Central America, and Mexico and only occasionally causes outbreaks in the United States. Over the past 20 years, VSNJV outbr...
Article
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West Nile virus (WNV) is the most common arthropod-borne virus (arbovirus) in the United States (US) and is the leading cause of viral encephalitis in the country. The virus has affected tens of thousands of US persons total since its 1999 North America introduction, with thousands of new infections reported annually. Approximately 1% of humans inf...
Article
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Ecosystems across the United States are changing in complex and surprising ways. Ongoing demand for critical ecosystem services requires an understanding of the populations and communities in these ecosystems in the future. This paper represents a synthesis effort of the U.S. National Science Foundation‐funded Long‐Term Ecological Research (LTER) n...
Chapter
Full-text available
The chapter compares the conceptual history of two Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) programs at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research sites established following land overuse in the early 1900s. Early USDA studies were based on a Clementsian model, where vegetation following disturbance was expected to return to the climax determined b...
Article
Woody plant encroachment is a global phenomenon whereby shrubs or trees replace grasses. The hydrological consequences of this ecological shift are of broad interest in ecohydrology, yet little is known of how plant and intercanopy patch dynamics, distributions, and connectivity influence catchment‐scale responses. To address this gap, we establish...
Article
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Vesicular stomatitis (VS) outbreaks in the western USA occur cyclically, approximately every 8–10 years. Phylogenetic evidence based on a 450 nt region of the P coding sequences suggests that the initial introduction was a single viral lineage closely related to those circulating in endemic areas of Mexico. In 2004, a VS outbreak was initiated in s...
Article
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Predicting the drivers of incursion and expansion of vector‐borne diseases as part of early‐warning strategies (EWS) is a major challenge for geographically extensive diseases where spread is mediated by spatial heterogeneity in climate and other environmental drivers. Geospatial data on these environmental drivers are increasingly available afford...
Article
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Woody plant encroachment (WPE) into grasslands is a global phenomenon that is associated with land degradation via xerification, which replaces grasses with shrubs and bare soil patches. It remains uncertain how the global processes of WPE and climate change may combine to impact water availability for ecosystems. Using a process-based model constr...
Article
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Agricultural systems are enormously variable in space and time. New and developing artificial intelligence (AI)-based tools can leverage site-based science and big data to help farmers and land managers make site-specific decisions. These tools are improving information about soils and vegetation that forms the basis for investments in management a...
Article
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We describe an AI recommender system (RS) with machine learning to harness past user choices and large volumes of data, yet account for changes in weather and management decisions characteristic of agricultural systems. Our goal is to maximize the use of data relevant to solving agricultural problems and improve the efficiency of the scientific wor...
Article
We provide an overview of the Special Issue on current advances, challenges, and opportunities for AI technologies in agriculture. We illustrate the potential of AI using four major components of the food system: production, distribution, consumption, and uncertainty. We recognize that the transformation of agriculture will require new tools to mor...
Article
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Alternative states maintained by feedbacks are notoriously difficult, if not impossible, to reverse. Although positive interactions that modify soil conditions may have the greatest potential to alter self‐reinforcing feedbacks, the conditions leading to these state change reversals have not been resolved. In a 9y study, we modified horizontal conn...
Article
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Climate change will bring more extremes in temperature and precipitation that will impact productivity and ecosystem resilience throughout agroecosystems worldwide. Historical events can be used to identify drivers that impact future events. A catastrophic drought in the US in the 1930s resulted in an abrupt boundary between areas severely impacted...
Article
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Vesicular stomatitis viruses (VSV) cause a condition known as vesicular stomatitis (VS), which results in painful lesions in equines, cattle, swine, and camelids, and when transmitted to humans can cause flu-like symptoms. When animal premises are affected by VS, they are subject to a quarantine. The equine industry more broadly may incur economic...
Article
Detecting and understanding disturbance is a challenge in ecology that has grown more critical with global environmental change and the emergence of research on social-ecological systems. We identify three areas of research need: developing a flexible framework that incorporates feedback loops between social and ecological systems, anticipating whe...
Article
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Climate change is predicted to impact ecosystems through altered precipitation (PPT) regimes. In the Chihuahuan Desert, multiyear wet and dry periods and extreme PPT pulses are the most influential climatic events for vegetation. Vegetation responses are most frequently studied locally, and regional responses are often unclear. We present an approa...
Article
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Dryland vegetation is influenced by biotic and abiotic Land Surface Template (LST) conditions and precipitation (PPT), such that enhanced vegetation responses to periods of high PPT may be shaped by multiple factors. High PPT stochasticity in the Chihuahuan Desert suggests that enhanced responses across broad geographic areas are improbable. Yet, m...
Article
In many arid ecosystems, shrub encroachment is coupled to the loss of perennial grasses and associated ecosystem services. Increased native herbivore abundance associated with shrub encroachment can have negative effects on grass restoration. In the Chihuahuan Desert, native herbivore abundance can be two times greater in shrubland states dominated...
Article
Full-text available
Relationships between environmental variables associated with the spread of vector-borne pathogens, such as RNA viruses transmitted to humans and animals, remain poorly understood. Vesicular stomatitis (VS) is caused by a vector-borne, zoonotic RNA virus (VSV) and is the most common vesicular disease affecting livestock (domestic horses, cattle, pi...
Article
Full-text available
The cover of woody perennial plants (trees and shrubs) in arid ecosystems is at least partially constrained by water availability. However, the extent to which maximum canopy cover is limited by rainfall and the degree to which soil water holding capacity and topography impacts maximum shrub cover are not well understood. Similar to other deserts i...
Article
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Phenological studies are critical for understanding the ability of terrestrial ecosystems to respond to changes in climate. Monitoring seasonal transitions at the species or community level across large areas is challenging and expensive. One approach for lowering costs is to identify phenological guilds-groups of species that exhibit similar timin...
Article
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Transitions from semiarid grassland to shrubland states are among the most widely recognized examples of regime shifts in terrestrial ecosystems. Nonetheless, the processes causing grassland-shrubland transitions and their consequences are incompletely understood. We challenge several misconceptions about these transitions in desert grasslands, inc...
Article
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The Earth is a complex system comprising many interacting spatial and temporal scales. We developed a transdisciplinary data-model integration (TDMI) approach to understand, predict, and manage for these complex dynamics that focuses on spatiotemporal modeling and cross-scale interactions. Our approach employs human-centered machine-learning strate...
Article
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Desert ecosystems are primarily limited by water availability. Within a climatic regime, topography, soil characteristics, and vegetation are expected to determine how the combined effects of precipitation, temperature, and evaporative demand of the atmosphere shape the spatial and temporal patterns of water within the soil profile and across a lan...
Article
Frequency and severity of extreme climatic events are forecast to increase in the 21st century. Predicting how managed ecosystems may respond to climatic extremes is intensified by uncertainty associated with knowing when, where, and how long effects of extreme events will be manifest in an ecosystem. In water-limited ecosystems with high inter-ann...
Article
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Ecosystem ecologists are being challenged to address the increasingly complex problems that comprise Big Science. These problems include multiple levels of biological organization that cross multiple interacting temporal and spatial scales, from individual plants, animals, and microbes to landscapes, continents, and the globe. As technology improve...
Article
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Long-Term studies of agroecosystems distributed across the North American continent are providing an extraordinary understanding of regional environmental dynamics. The new Long-Term Agro-ecosystem Research (LTAR) network (organized in 2012) has designed an explicit cross-site research program with multiple U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) exp...
Chapter
As a long-time member of the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) network, first as a graduate student and scientist at the Shortgrass Steppe (SGS) site (1984–1997), then as a scientist at the Sevilleta (SEV) site (1996–present) and now as principal investigator at the Jornada Basin (JRN) site (2003–present), my professional career has been shaped...
Article
Full-text available
Theory predicts that strong indirect effects of environmental change will impact communities when niche differences between competitors are small and variation in the direct effects experienced by competitors is large, but empirical tests are lacking. Here we estimate negative frequency dependence, a proxy for niche differences, and quantify the di...
Data
Supplementary Figures 1-3, Supplementary Tables 1-5
Data
Statistical results for the survival models of species.
Data
Statistical results for the growth models of species.
Data
Statistical results for the recruitment models of species.
Article
Ecological systems often operate on timescales significantly longer, or shorter, than the timescales typical of human decision-making, which causes substantial difficulty for conservation. For example, invasive species may move faster than humans can diagnose problems and initiate solutions. Climate systems may exhibit both long-term inertia and sh...
Article
Shrub encroachment into perennial grasslands is occurring in many arid parts of the world. As shrubs displace perennial grasslands, bare patches can coalesce creating sediment transport pathways that further enhance sediment fluxes by wind transport. Reducing the connectedness of these pathways could slow or stop grassland loss by limiting sediment...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change will result in increased precipitation variability with more extreme events reflected in more frequent droughts as well as more frequent extremely wet conditions. The increase in precipitation variability will occur at different temporal scales from intra to inter-annual and even longer scales. At the intra-annual scale, extreme prec...
Article
Dryland ecosystems are often characterized by patchy vegetation and exposed soil. This structure enhances transport of soil resources and seeds through the landscape (primarily by wind and water, but also by animals), thus emphasizing the importance of connectivity ? given its relation to the flow of these materials ? as a component of dryland ecos...
Article
The traditional desertification paradigm focuses on the losses of ecosystem services that typically occur when grasslands transition to systems dominated by bare (unvegetated) ground or by woody plants that are unpalatable to domestic livestock. However, recent studies reveal complex transitions across a range of environmental conditions and socioe...
Article
Full-text available
Ecological processes in arid lands are often described by the pulse-reserve paradigm, in which rain events drive biological activity until moisture is depleted, leaving a reserve. This paradigm is frequently applied to processes stimulated by one or a few precipitation events within a growing season.Here we expand the original framework in time and...
Article
Farji-Brener and Kitzberger (2014; hereafter FBK) resurrect the issues of Farji-Brener (2007) concerning manuscripts that are submitted to journals but that are not sent out for peer review: a process we call " reject following editorial review " (RFER). We thank FBK for reviving discussion about this important topic as new challenges, including ne...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods In most arid and semiarid ecosystems the major impact of climate change will occur through changes in soil water availability. Current understanding of arid-ecosystem responses to changes in water availability is mostly based on observations or short-term manipulations. These methods are insufficient to estimate the ef...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Background/Question/Methods Grasslands across the United States play a key role in regional livelihood and national food security. Yet, it is still unclear how this important resource will respond to the prolonged warm droughts and more intense rainfall events predicted with climate change. The early 21st century drought in the southwestern U.S. r...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Extreme climatic events are increasing in frequency and intensity as a result of global warming. Although extreme events are often viewed as having negative impacts on ecosystem dynamics, recent studies in the Chihuahuan Desert show that a 5-year wet period led to an unexpected increase in grass production in desertifie...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Lehmann lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmanniana), a perennial grass originally from South Africa, is a highly invasive species in the Sonoran Desert, but has a limited distribution in the higher elevation Chihuahuan Desert. We hypothesized that an increase in temperature with global warming would increase the susceptibility...
Article
Grasslands across the United States play a key role in regional livelihood and national food security. Yet, it is still unclear how this important resource will respond to the prolonged warm droughts and more intense rainfall events predicted with climate change. The early 21st-century drought in the southwestern United States resulted in hydroclim...
Chapter
Biomes of North America are contained within the land area of Canada, the United States, Mexico, and countries in Central America. The area is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea. This large area (over 24...
Article
Full-text available
Most efforts to harness the power of big data for ecology and environmental sciences focus on data and metadata sharing, standardization, and accuracy. However, many scientists have not accepted the data deluge as an integral part of their research because the current scientific method is not scalable to large, complex datasets. Here, we explain ho...