Hydrologic responses of shortgrass prairie ecosystems.

Author: 
Weltz, L.
Frasier, G.
Weltz, M.
Publisher: 
Rangeland Ecology & Management / Journal of Range Management Archives
Publication Year: 
2000
Description: 
Runoff hydrographs from 3 separate rainfall simulation runs at 11 different shortgrass prairie sites were evaluated to determine the hydrologic similarity within a single ecosystem at widely separated sites. There were no consistent patterns in the equilibrium runoff among sites and simulator runs. When the sites were stratified by soil type, there were differences in time-to-peak of the runoff event and the regression slope of the rising limb of the runoff ratios. Spearman's rank correlation showed no relation of the rising limb slope regression coefficient to measured vegetative characteristics across all sites. There was minimal correlation between the runoff regression coefficient and the percent cover and bare soil. Differences in the biotic components of the sites were not useful in predicting runoff characteristics. If equilibrium runoff was the measured hydrologic response, the sites were dissimilar. Using the time-to-peak and slope of the rising limb components of the runoff hydrograph, the sites were similar on the same soil type. The technique of comparing components of the runoff hydrograph, other than equilibrium runoff has promise to allow one to quickly compare responses among ecosystems to determine if they have similar hydrological functions. Our study on shortgrass prairie sites indicated that easily estimated factors such as biomass, cover and litter were not good indicators of hydrologic function. Also, it is necessary to identify which portion of the runoff event is most important in the assessment. Future hydrologic and erosion models need to develop nonlinear prediction equations to estimate infiltration rates as a function of cover, biomass, and soil properties and also to stratify soils into functional units to accurately estimate runoff rates.DOI:10.2458/azu_jrm_v53i4_weltz
Document Type: 
Journal Issue/Article
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Rangeland Ecology & Management (formerly the Journal of Range Management) serves as a forum for the presentation and discussion of facts, ideas, and philosophies pertaining to the study, management, ecology, and use of rangelands and their resources. The journal is peer-reviewed and provides international exchange of scholarly research and information among persons interested in rangelands. The Global Rangelands collection includes REM content up to 5 years from the current year. More recent content is available by subscription from BioOne and the Society for Range Management, and may be available at your local university library.
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