Matching Items (6)

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Integration of remote sensing, field observations and modelling for ecohydrological studies in Sonora, Mexico

Description

Ecohydrological responses to rainfall in the North American monsoon (NAM) region lead to complex surface-atmosphere interactions. In early summer, it is expected that soil properties and topography act as primary

Ecohydrological responses to rainfall in the North American monsoon (NAM) region lead to complex surface-atmosphere interactions. In early summer, it is expected that soil properties and topography act as primary controls in hydrologic processes. Under the presence of strongly dynamic ecosystems, catchment hydrology is expected to vary substantially in comparison to other semiarid areas, affecting our understanding of ecohydrological processes and the parameterization of predictive models. A large impediment toward making progress in this field is the lack of spatially extensive observational data. As a result, it is critical to integrate numerical models, remote sensing observations and ground data to understand and predict ecohydrological dynamics in space and time, including soil moisture, evapotranspiration and runoff generation dynamics. In this thesis, a set of novel ecohydrological simulations that integrate remote sensing and ground observations were conducted at three spatial scales in a semiarid river basin in northern Sonora, Mexico. First, single site simulations spanning several summers were carried out in two contrasting mountain ecosystems to predict evapotranspiration partitioning. Second, a catchment-scale simulation was conducted to evaluate the effects of spatially-variable soil thickness and textural properties on water fluxes and states during one monsoon season. Finally, a river basin modeling effort spanning seven years was applied to understand interannual variability in ecohydrological dynamics. Results indicated that ecohydrological simulations with a dynamic representation of vegetation greening tracked well the seasonal evolution of observed evapotranspiration and soil moisture at two measurement locations. A switch in the dominant component of evapotranspiration from soil evaporation to plant transpiration was observed for each ecosystem, depending on the timing and magnitude of vegetation greening. Furthermore, spatially variable soil thickness affects subsurface flow while soil texture controls patterns of surface soil moisture and evapotranspiration during the transition from dry to wet conditions. Finally, the ratio of transformation of precipitation into evapotranspiration (ET/P) and run off (Q/P) changed in space and time as summer monsoon progresses. The results of this research improve the understanding of the ecohydrology of NAM region, which can be useful for developing sustainable watershed management plans in the face of anticipated land cover and climate changes.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Effects of Water Holding Capacity and Precipitation on Above Ground Net Primary Production

Description

Aboveground net primary production (ANPP) is an important ecosystem process that, in drylands, is most frequently limited by water availability. Water availability for plants is in part controlled by the

Aboveground net primary production (ANPP) is an important ecosystem process that, in drylands, is most frequently limited by water availability. Water availability for plants is in part controlled by the water holding capacity of soils. Available water holding capacity (AWHC) of soils is strongly influenced by soil texture and depth. This study drew upon localized rain gauge data and four data-sets of cover-line and biomass data to estimate ANPP and to determine annual precipitation (PPT). I measured soil depth to caliche and texture by layer of 112 plots across the four landscape units for which estimation of ANPP were available. A pedotransfer function was used to estimate AWHC from soil depth increments to depth of caliche measurements and texture analysis. These data were analyzed using simple and multivariate regression to test the effect of annual precipitation and available water holding capacity on aboveground net primary production. Soil texture remained constant among all plots (sandy loam) and depth to caliche varied from 15.16 cm to 189 cm. AWHC and the interaction term (PPT*AWHC) were insignificant (p=0.142, p=0.838) and annual PPT accounted for 18.4% of the variation in ANPP. The y-intercept was significantly different for ANPP ~ annual PPT when considering AWHC values either above or below 3 cm. Shrub ANPP was insensitive to precipitation regardless of AWHC (R2=-0.012, R2=0.014). Results from this study indicate that a model incorporating annual PPT and AWHC may not serve as a good predictor for ANPP at a site level where there is little variation in soil texture.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2019

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The effects of interannual precipitation variability on the functioning of grasslands

Description

Climate change will result not only in changes in the mean state of climate but also on changes in variability. However, most studies of the impact of climate change on

Climate change will result not only in changes in the mean state of climate but also on changes in variability. However, most studies of the impact of climate change on ecosystems have focused on the effect of changes in the central tendency. The broadest objective of this thesis was to assess the effects of increased interannual precipitation variation on ecosystem functioning in grasslands. In order to address this objective, I used a combination of field experimentation and data synthesis. Precipitation manipulations on the field experiments were carried out using an automated rainfall manipulation system developed as part of this dissertation. Aboveground net primary production responses were monitored during five years. Increased precipitation coefficient of variation decreased primary production regardless of the effect of precipitation amount. Perennial-grass productivity significantly decreased while shrub productivity increased as a result of enhanced precipitation variance. Most interesting is that the effect of precipitation variability increased through time highlighting the existence of temporal lags in ecosystem response.

Further, I investigated the effect of precipitation variation on functional diversity on the same experiment and found a positive response of diversity to increased interannual precipitation variance. Functional evenness showed a similar response resulting from large changes in plant-functional type relative abundance including decreased grass and increased shrub cover while functional richness showed non-significant response. Increased functional diversity ameliorated the direct negative effects of precipitation variation on ecosystem ANPP but did not control ecosystem stability where indirect effects through the dominant plant-functional type determined ecosystem stability.

Analyses of 80 long-term data sets, where I aggregated annual productivity and precipitation data into five-year temporal windows, showed that precipitation variance had a significant effect on aboveground net primary production that is modulated by mean precipitation. Productivity increased with precipitation variation at sites where mean annual precipitation is less than 339 mm but decreased at sites where precipitation is higher than 339 mm. Mechanisms proposed to explain patterns include: differential ANPP response to precipitation among sites, contrasting legacy effects and soil water distribution.

Finally, increased precipitation variance may impact global grasslands affecting plant-functional types in different ways that may lead to state changes, increased erosion and decreased stability that can in turn limit the services provided by these valuable ecosystems.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Methane and nitrous oxide fluxes from water, plants, and soils of a constructed treatment wetland in Phoenix, AZ

Description

Constructed treatment wetlands (CTW) have been a cost-efficient technological solution to treat different types of wastewater but may also be sources of emitters of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).

Constructed treatment wetlands (CTW) have been a cost-efficient technological solution to treat different types of wastewater but may also be sources of emitters of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Thus, my objective for this dissertation was to investigate CH4 and N2O fluxes via multiple pathways from the Tres Rios CTW located in Phoenix, AZ, USA. I measured gas fluxes from the CTW along a whole-system gradient (from inflow to outflow) and a within-marsh gradient (shoreline, middle, and open water sites). I found higher diffusive CH4 release in the summer compared to spring and winter seasons. Along the whole-system gradient, I found greater CH4 and N2O emission fluxes near the inflow compared to near the outflow. Within the vegetated marsh, I found greater CH4 emission fluxes at the vegetated marsh subsites compared to the open water. In contrast, N2O emissions were greater at the marsh-open water locations compared to interior marsh. To study the plant-mediated pathway, I constructed small gas chambers fitted to Typha spp. leaves. I found plant-mediated CH4 fluxes were greater near the outflow than near the inflow and that CH4 fluxes were higher from lower sections of plants compared to higher sections. Overall, Typha spp. emitted a mean annual daily flux rate of 358.23 mg CH4 m-2 d-1. Third, using a 30-day mesocosm experiment I studied the effects of three different drydown treatments (2, 7, 14 days) on the fluxes of CH4 and N2O from flooded CTW soils. I found that CH4 fluxes were not significantly affected by soil drydown events. Soils that were dry for 7 days shifted from being N2O sources to sinks upon inundation. As a result, the 7-day drydown soils were sinks while the 14-day drydown soils showed significant N2O release. My results emphasize the importance of studying ecological processes in CTWs to improve their design and management strategies so we can better mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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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.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Deep percolation in arid piedmont watersheds and its sensitivity to ecosystem change

Description

Population growth within drylands is occurring faster than growth in any other ecologic zone, putting pressure on already stressed water resources. Because the availability of surface water supplies in drylands

Population growth within drylands is occurring faster than growth in any other ecologic zone, putting pressure on already stressed water resources. Because the availability of surface water supplies in drylands tends to be highly variable, many of these populations rely on groundwater. A critical process contributing to groundwater recharge is the interaction between ephemeral channels and groundwater aquifers. Generally, it has been found that ephemeral channels contribute to groundwater recharge when streamflow infiltrates into the sandy bottoms of channels. This process has traditionally been studied in channels that drain large areas (10s to 100s km2). In this dissertation, I study the interactions between surface water and groundwater via ephemeral channels in a first-order watershed located on an arid piedmont slope within the Jornada Experimental Range (JER) in the Chihuahuan Desert. To achieve this, I utilize a combination of high-resolution observations and computer simulations using a modified hydrologic model to quantify groundwater recharge and shed light on the geomorphic and ecologic processes that affect the rate of recharge. Observational results indicate that runoff generated within the piedmont slope contributes significantly to deep percolation. During the short-term (6 yr) study period, we estimated 385 mm of total percolation, 62 mm/year, or a ratio of percolation to rainfall of 0.25. Based on the instrument network, we identified that percolation occurs inside channel areas when these receive overland sheetflow from hillslopes. By utilizing a modified version of the hydrologic model, TIN-based Real-time Integrated Basin Simulator (tRIBS), that was calibrated and validated using the observational dataset, I quantified the effects of changing watershed properties on groundwater recharge. Distributed model simulations quantify how deep percolation is produced during the streamflow generation process, and indicate that it plays a significant role in moderating the production of streamflow. Sensitivity analyses reveal that hillslope properties control the amount of rainfall necessary to initiate percolation while channel properties control the partitioning of hillslope runoff into streamflow and deep percolation. Synthetic vegetation experiments show that woody plant encroachment leads to increases in both deep percolation and streamflow. Further woody plant encroachment may result in the unexpected enhancement of dryland aquifer sustainability.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017