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Debra Peters

Debra Peters

Lead Principal Investigator, Jornada Basin Long-Term Ecological Research Project

Jornada Basin Long-Term Ecological Project
New Mexico State University
Box 30003 MSC 3 JER
Las Cruces, NM 88003-0003


  • Ecologist, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Jornada Experimental Range
  • Lead Principal Investigator, Jornada Basin Long-Term Ecological Research Project
  • Adjunct Faculty, Biology Department, New Mexico State University


My research focuses on understanding and predicting the dynamics of arid and semiarid systems across a range of spatial and temporal scales. Much of my research involves interactions within and among various species of grasses and shrubs with a focus on extrapolating patterns and processes across scales, from individual plants to patches, landscapes, and regions. Current projects include (1) the examination of spatial variation in shrub invasion and grass persistence, (2) the study of ecotones and biotic transitions at multiple scales, (3) predicting nonlinear spatial dynamics of cascading systems, (4) using cross-site studies to generalize processes and patterns, and (5) integrating process-based experiments with simulation models (ECOTONE), geographic information systems (GIS), and remote sensed images. Research is conducted at a number of sites in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas with most studies occurring at the Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site in southern NM and the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge LTER site in central NM. Collaborative research is being conducted at three sites in Hungary.


  • PhD, Range Science, Colorado State University, 1988
  • MS, Biology, San Diego State University, 1983
  • BS, Biology, Iowa State University, 1981

External Links

Journal Articles


Peters, D. P., N. D. Burruss, L. L. Rodriguez, D. S. McVey, E. H. Elias, A. M. Pelzel-McCluskey, J. D. Derner, T. S. Schrader, J. Yao, S. J. Pauszek, J. Lombard, S. R. Archer, B. T. Bestelmeyer, D. M. Browning, C. W. Brungard, J. L. Hatfield, N. P. Hanan, J. E. Herrick, G. S. Okin, O. E. Sala, H. Savoy and E. R. Vivoni. 2018. An integrated view of complex landscapes: A big data-model integration approach to transdisciplinary science. BioScience 68(9):653-669. DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biy069. (link )

Petrie, M. D., D. P. Peters, J. Yao, J. M. Blair, N. D. Burruss, S. L. Collins, J. D. Derner, L. A. Gherardi, J. R. Hendrickson, O. E. Sala, P. J. Starks and J. L. Steiner. 2018. Regional grassland productivity responses to precipitation during multiyear above- and below-average rainfall periods. Global Change Biology 24(5):1935-1951. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14024. (link )


Okin, G. S., M. Moreno-de las Heras, P. M. Saco, H. L. Throop, E. R. Vivoni, A. J. Parsons, J. Wainwright and D. P. Peters. 2015. Connectivity in dryland landscapes: Shifting concepts of spatial interactions. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 13(1):20-27. DOI: 10.1890/140163. (link )

Peters, D. P., K. M. Havstad, S. R. Archer and O. E. Sala. 2015. Beyond desertification: New paradigms for dryland landscapes. Frotiers in Ecology and the Environment 13(1):4-12. DOI: 10.1890/140276. (link )

Sala, O. E., L. A. Gherardi and D. P. Peters. 2015. Enhanced precipitation variability effects on water losses and ecosystem functioning: Differential response of arid and mesic regions. Climate Change 131(2):213-227. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-015-1389-z. (link )


Carpenter, S. R., E. V. Armbrust, P. W. Arzberger, F. S. Chapin III, J. J. Elser, E. J. Hackett, P. M. Kareiva, M. A. Leibold, P. Lundberg, M. Mangel, N. Merchant, W. W. Murdoch, M. A. Palmer, D. P. Peters, S. T. Pickett, K. K. Smith, D. H. Wall and A. S. Zimmerman. 2009. Accelerate synthesis in ecology and environmental sciences. BioScience 59(8):699-701. (link )


Grimm, N. B., D. R. Foster, P. M. Groffman, J. M. Grove, C. S. Hopkinson, K. J. Nadelhoffer, D. P. Peters and D. E. Pataki. 2008. The changing landscape: Ecosystem responses to urbanization and pollution across climatic and societal gradients. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 6(5):264-272. (link )



Shaver, G., T. Chapin, C. Duke, A. P. Kinzig, D. P. Peters and O. E. Sala. 2007. Ecological foundations of sustainability in a constantly changing world. San Jose McEnery Conference Center. Symposium organized at the August 6-10, 2007 Ecological Restoration in a Changing World at the 92nd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America held with the Society for Ecological Restoration 18th International Conference, San Jose, CA.

Report Chapters


Yao, J., O. E. Sala and D. P. Peters. 2013. Cross-site studies "by design": Experiments and observations that provide new insights. Pp. 72-80 In: Peters, D. P., C. M. Laney, A. E. Lugo, S. L. Collins, C. T. Driscoll, P. M. Groffman, J. M. Grove, A. K. Knapp, T. K. Kratz, M. D. Ohman, R. B. Waide and J. Yao eds., Long-Term Trends in Ecological Systems: A Basis for Understanding Responses to Global Change. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Technical Bulletin 1931. Washington, D.C. (link )