We studied shrub communities in the Panamint Mountains of the Mojave Desert to determine whether vegetational changes after disturbance can be characterized as "succession" according to modern successional theory. We found, on a variety of disturbed and undisturbed sites, that the rate of change was a function of the type and age of disturbance.
The response of desert plant assemblages to disturbance was studied in Death Valley National Monument, California. Plant assemblages on debris flows, alluvial terraces, five abandoned townsites, and a pipeline corridor were measured to quantify recovery rates and to develop a model of change in desert vegetation.
Often as a result of large-scale military maneuvers in the past, many soils in the Mojave Desert are highly vulnerable to soil compaction, particularly when wet. Previous studies indicate that natural recovery of severely compacted desert soils is extremely slow, and some researchers have suggested that subsurface compaction may not recover.