Vegetation influences on water yields from grassland and shrubland ecosystems in the Chihuahuan desert

TitleVegetation influences on water yields from grassland and shrubland ecosystems in the Chihuahuan desert
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsNeave M, Abrahams AD
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Date Published2002
Accession NumberJRN00374
Call Number00788
Keywordsarticle, articles, hydrology, ecosystem dynamics, hydrology, grassland, hydrology, processes, hydrology, rainfall simulation, hydrology, shrubland, hydrology, water budget, hydrology, water yield, hydrology,infiltration, hydrology,runoff, journal, journals, runoff, stemflow, Larrea, water yield

This study examines runoff generated under simulated rainfall on Summerford bajada in the Jornada Basin, New Mexico, USA. Forty-five simulation experiments were conducted on 1 m2 and 2 m2 runoff plots on grassland, degraded grassland, shrub and intershrub environments located in grassland and shrubland communities. Average hydrographs generated for each environment show that runoff originates earlier on the vegetated plots than on the unvegetated plots. This early generation of runoff is attributed to soil infiltration rates being overwhelmed by the rapid concentration of water at the base of plants by stemflow. Hydrographs from the degraded grassland and intershrub plots rise continuously throughout the 30 min simulation events indicating that these plots do not achieve equilibrium runoff. This continuously rising form is attributed to the progressive development of raindrop-induced surface seals. Most grassland and shrub plots level out after the initial early rise indicating equilibrium runoff is achieved. Some shrub plots, however, display a decline in discharge after the early rise. The delayed infiltration of water into macropores beneath shrubs with vegetation in their understories is proposed to explain this declining form. Water yields predicted at the community level indicate that the shrubland sheds 150% more water for a given storm event than the grassland. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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