The purpose of this chapter is threefold. First, we review the extent of global change in drylands and some of its ecological and societal consequences. Second, we discuss one component ofpotential climate change—rainfall variability—and how it affects primary production in rangelands. We illustrate this with a case study of a rangeland in southern New Mexico using a physiologically-based ecosystem model. Lastly, we suggest that basic ecological knowledge, such as presented in our case study, should be an essential component of assessment frameworks. Doing so will not only improve assessments, but will increase its usefulness to scientists, land managers and policy makers.
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