Matching Items (5)

154093-Thumbnail Image.png

The effect of plant neighbors on a common desert shrub's physiology and evapotranspiration

Description

Hydrological models in arid and semi-arid ecosystems can be subject to high uncertainties. Spatial variability in soil moisture and evapotranspiration, key components of the water cycle, can contribute to model

Hydrological models in arid and semi-arid ecosystems can be subject to high uncertainties. Spatial variability in soil moisture and evapotranspiration, key components of the water cycle, can contribute to model uncertainty. In particular, an understudied source of spatial variation is the effect of plant-plant interactions on water fluxes. At patch scales (plant and associated soil), plant neighbors can either negatively or positively affect soil water availability via competition or hydraulic redistribution, respectively. The aboveground microclimate can also be altered via canopy shading effects by neighbors. Across longer timescales (years), plants may adjust their physiological (water-use) traits in response to the neighbor-altered microclimate, which subsequently affects transpiration rates. The influence of physiological adjustments and neighbor-altered microclimate on water fluxes was assessed around Larrea tridentata in the Sonoran Desert. Field measurements of Larrea’s stomatal behavior and vertical root distributions were used to examine the effects of neighbors on Larrea’s physiological controls on transpiration. A modeling based approach was implemented to explore the sensitivity of evapotranspiration and soil moisture to neighbor effects. Neighbors significantly altered both above- and belowground physiological controls on evapotranspiration. Compared to Larrea growing alone, neighbors increased Larrea’s annual transpiration by up to 75% and 30% at the patch and stand scales, respectively. Estimates of annual transpiration were highly sensitive to the presence/absence of competition for water, and on seasonal timescales, physiological adjustments significantly influenced transpiration estimates. Plant-plant interactions can be a significant source of spatial variation in ecohydrological models, and both physiological adjustments to neighbors and neighbor effects on microclimate affect small scale (patch to ecosystem) water fluxes.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

155015-Thumbnail Image.png

Desert playa wetlands: ecological controls of their functioning and responses to climate change

Description

The Basin and Range province of southwestern USA are composed of different grassland and shrubland ecosystems. Particularly understudied ecosystems in this region are playas, which are ephemerally-flooded wetlands located in

The Basin and Range province of southwestern USA are composed of different grassland and shrubland ecosystems. Particularly understudied ecosystems in this region are playas, which are ephemerally-flooded wetlands located in topographic low areas of hydrologically-closed dryland catchments. There is not much known about the ecological functioning of playas and the role of playas within desert basins. Even less is known about how global change drivers may affect playas in the future. The main objective of this thesis was to better understand the ecological functioning and the impact of climate change on desert playa wetlands. I collected new data, used existing long-term data, and used simulation modelling techniques to address this objective. I compared playa soils to upland soils and found that playas were hotspots of soil organic carbon and nutrient storage within a desert basin. I also used existing data to analyze the response of above-ground net primary productivity (ANPP) to annual precipitation in playas and upland ecosystems. I found that playa ANPP responded in a non-linear concave-down relationship with annual precipitation amount. Playa ANPP peaked in moderately wet years and declined in very wet years, which was most likely due to flooding; whereas, upland ANPP increased linearly with precipitation. I measured soil organic carbon and nitrogen concentrations in a representative subset of playas and measured the biophysical characteristics of the upland catchments associated with each playa. I found that both catchment geomorphology and vegetation cover were correlated to differences in soil organic carbon and nitrogen among playas. These results showed the importance external soil-inputs delivered via surface runon to playas. Finally, I empirically measured groundwater recharge beneath playas and combined these empirical data with modelling data to forecast how playa groundwater recharge may change in the future. I concluded that playas contribute to groundwater recharge in desert aquifers, playa runon is a strong predictor of playa groundwater recharge, and climate change will have a net-positive impact on groundwater recharge beneath playas. Overall, my thesis research increased the understanding of the role of desert playas on the functioning of dryland ecosystems.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

156271-Thumbnail Image.png

Sixty-three year changes of range trend with response to livestock exclusion in the Arizona upland subdivision of the Sonoran Desert of south-central Arizona

Description

The introduction of livestock to the vast majority of public lands may be used to simulate the conditions provided by herbivorous grazers in the past, however little data has been

The introduction of livestock to the vast majority of public lands may be used to simulate the conditions provided by herbivorous grazers in the past, however little data has been collected on the effects of livestock grazing in Sonoran desert habitats. Vegetative species that are characteristic of the Arizona Upland subdivision of the Sonoran desert did not evolve with extensive grazing by large ungulate populations, and therefore the response to livestock grazing is of particular interest. Four historic Parker 3-step clusters in south-central Arizona were sampled in three cohorts between 1953 and 2016 to interpret changes in rangeland health using soil coverage data, species richness and frequency, and long-term photo point comparisons. Cattle grazing was active across the allotment until 1984, allowing approximately 30 years of rest before the third and final cohort was measured. Over the entirety of this study, there was a 66.67% increase in perennial basal hits, a 56.29% increase in rock, and a 44.55% increase of forage basal hits. Decreases were seen in litter (-57.69%) and bare soil hits (-8.76%). Cluster 3 consistently had a lower percent of cover across all classes of vegetation in the 2014 cohort

(-81.61%), however the average percent of cover increased by 63.16% (40 hits) across the allotment. Available species richness data from 1971 and 2014 cohorts indicates a 112% increase in unique species; however, species richness increases in the 2014 cohort are largely based on recruitment of non-palatable species (71%). Although the status of some species were undetermined, all individuals identified to species in the invader class (non-palatable) were determined to be native to the study site. Perennial grass frequency became less abundant over the duration of this study, while growth was predominantly observed in shrubs. Increases in species frequency was detected on two of the four clusters measured in the 2014 cohort; the growth was primarily observed in jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis), oak (Quercus spp.), and catclaw acacia (Senegalia greggii) in C4, and hopseed bush (Dodonaea viscosa) in C2.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018

153912-Thumbnail Image.png

Ecological effects of stream flow permanence on butterfly and plant communities of Sonoran Desert streams

Description

Stream flow permanence plays a critical role in determining floristic composition, abundance, and diversity in the Sonoran Desert, but questions remain about the effects of stream flow permanence on butterfly

Stream flow permanence plays a critical role in determining floristic composition, abundance, and diversity in the Sonoran Desert, but questions remain about the effects of stream flow permanence on butterfly composition, abundance, and diversity. Understanding the effects of flow permanence on butterflies and relevant subsets of butterflies (such as butterflies whose host plants are present) and comparing them to these same effects on plants and relevant subsets of plants (such as butterfly nectar plants and larval host plants) provided insight into pollinator and riparian conservation and restoration.

I surveyed four Sonoran desert stream sites, and found significant relationships between flow permanence and plant and butterfly species richness and abundance, as well as strong relationships between plant and butterfly abundance and between plant and butterfly species richness. Most notably, my results pointed to hosted butterflies as a break-out category of butterflies which may more clearly delineate ecological relationships between butterfly and plant abundance and diversity along Sonoran Desert streams; this can inform conservation decisions. Managing for hosted (resident) butterflies will necessarily entail managing for the presence of surface water, nectar forage, varying levels of canopy cover, and plant, nectar plant, and host plant diversity since the relationships between hosted butterfly species richness and/or abundance and all of these variables were significant, both statistically and ecologically.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

155884-Thumbnail Image.png

Evaluating the effectiveness of tree locations and arrangements for improving urban thermal environment

Description

Trees serve as a natural umbrella to mitigate insolation absorbed by features of the urban environment, especially building structures and pavements. For a desert community, trees are a particularly valuable

Trees serve as a natural umbrella to mitigate insolation absorbed by features of the urban environment, especially building structures and pavements. For a desert community, trees are a particularly valuable asset because they contribute to energy conservation efforts, improve home values, allow for cost savings, and promote enhanced health and well-being. The main obstacle in creating a sustainable urban community in a desert city with trees is the scarceness and cost of irrigation water. Thus, strategically located and arranged desert trees with the fewest tree numbers possible potentially translate into significant energy, water and long-term cost savings as well as conservation, economic, and health benefits. The objective of this dissertation is to achieve this research goal with integrated methods from both theoretical and empirical perspectives.

This dissertation includes three main parts. The first part proposes a spatial optimization method to optimize the tree locations with the objective to maximize shade coverage on building facades and open structures and minimize shade coverage on building rooftops in a 3-dimensional environment. Second, an outdoor urban physical scale model with field measurement is presented to understand the cooling and locational benefits of tree shade. The third part implements a microclimate numerical simulation model to analyze how the specific tree locations and arrangements influence outdoor microclimates and improve human thermal comfort. These three parts of the dissertation attempt to fill the research gap of how to strategically locate trees at the building to neighborhood scale, and quantifying the impact of such arrangements.

Results highlight the significance of arranging residential shade trees across different geographical scales. In both the building and neighborhood scales, research results recommend that trees should be arranged in the central part of the building south front yard. More cooling benefits are provided to the building structures and outdoor microclimates with a cluster tree arrangement without canopy overlap; however, if residents are interested in creating a better outdoor thermal environment, open space between trees is needed to enhance the wind environment for better human thermal comfort. Considering the rapid urbanization process, limited water resources supply, and the severe heat stress in the urban areas, judicious design and planning of trees is of increasing importance for improving the life quality and sustaining the urban environment.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017