Structure and Function of Woodland Mosaics: Consequences of Patch-Scale Heterogeneity and Connectivity Along the Grassland–Forest Continuum

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A large fraction of the terrestrial biosphere can be viewed as gradients of varying amounts of cover by woody plants, referred to as the grassland–forest continuum, (Figure 1; Belsky and Canham 1994; Breshears and Barnes 1999; Breshears 2006). Over such gradients, the proportion of cover from woody vegetation generally increases from grasslands to savannas to woodlands to forests. The ecosystems along the grassland–forest continuum vary with respect to their proportions of woody and herbaceous plants. Understanding and predicting the dynamics of mixed woody-herbaceous systems remain a major challenge (House et al. 2003). The juniper woodlands that are the focus of this volume represent one such system that is widely distributed in North America as well as elsewhere (McPherson 1997; Anderson et al. 1999).