Natural (and Managed) Islands of Hydrologically Enhanced Biotic Productivity in Arid Zones

TitleNatural (and Managed) Islands of Hydrologically Enhanced Biotic Productivity in Arid Zones
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsRango A., Tartowski S., Laliberte, Andrea S., Parsons A., Wainwright J.
Conference NameAtmospheric Sciences
Series TitleEOS Transactions AGU
PaginationCDROM A33A-02
Date PublishedMay 23-27, 2005
ARIS Log Number182923
Keywordsbiotic, hydrologically, managed, natural
AbstractNumerous physical characteristics influence runoff generation in arid regions such as the Jornada basin of southern New Mexico. Factors causing high spatial variations of water in deserts include precipitation, soil, physiography, and vegetation characteristics. The inherent heterogeneity of these characteristics in arid zones causes discontinuous areas of runoff and run-on which creates islands of hydrologically enhanced biotic productivity. These hydrologic islands are observed at the plant scale where they coincide with islands of fertility or resource islands. At the larger scale the islands of hydrologically enhanced biotic productivity can be observed as banded vegetation, beaded drainage networks, and playitas and playas. In the rehabilitation of degraded rangelands it is wise to mimic the natural processes which tend to slow down surface flow and allow time for infiltration, thus creating areas of high vegetation productivity. There have been several successful attempts in the Jornada basin to establish spatial discontinuities of water and vegetation similar to natural occurring patterns. The most successful treatments so far have been shallow, water ponding dikes and water spreaders.