Stemflow contribution to the "fertile island" effect in creosotebush, <i>Larrea tridentata</i>

TitleStemflow contribution to the "fertile island" effect in creosotebush, Larrea tridentata
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsWhitford WG, Anderson JP, Rice P.M.
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Date Published1997
ARIS Log Number098794
Keywordsbulk precipitation, creosotebush, dryfall, Larrea tridentata, soil fertility, stemflow, throughfall

Stemflow, throughfall and bulk precipitation were collected on six creosotebushes (Larrea tridentata) during 18 events in the summer rainy season in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. The average stemflow was 16·8 ± 1·9%; throughfall averaged 64·7 ± 3·2%. The concentration of all ions measured were significantly higher in stemflow than in the bulk precipitation. Total nitrogen, sulfate, and calcium concentrations were more than an order of magnitude higher in the stemflow than in the bulk precipitation. Concentration of ions in the upper 10 cm of soil were generally higher in soils under shrubs than in soils between shrubs. Measured quantities of ions in dry-fall were of sufficient magnitude to account for the increased concentration in stemflow water of most ions. Increases in nitrogen in stemflow water may be due to biological activity of stem crust micro-organisms in addition to dry-fall. Dry-fall that collects on the leaves and stems of this desert shrub may contribute to the ‘fertile island’ effect on the soils under the canopies of creosotebushes.