Density-dependent ecohydrological effects of pionjuniper woody canopy cover on soil microclimate and potential soil evaporation

Patrick D. Royer, David D. Breshears, Chris B. Zou, Juan Camilo Villegas, Neil S Cobb, Shirley A. Kurc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Many rangeland processes are driven by microclimate and associated ecohydrological dynamics. Most rangelands occur in drylands where evapotranspiration normally dominates the water budget. In these water-limited environments plants can influence abiotic and biotic processes by modifying microclimate factors such as soil temperature and potential soil evaporation. Previous studies have assessed spatial variation in microclimate and associated ecohydrological attributes within an ecosystem (e.g., under vs. between woody canopies) or across ecosystems (e.g., with differing amounts of woody canopy cover), but generally lacking are assessments accounting systematically for both, particularly for evergreen woody plants. Building on recently quantified trends in near-ground solar radiation associated with a pionjuniper gradient spanning 5% to 65% woody canopy cover, we evaluated trends in soil temperature and associated estimates of potential soil evaporation as a function of amount of woody canopy cover for sites overall and for associated canopy vs. intercanopy locations. Quantified soil temperature trends decreased linearly with increasing woody canopy cover for intercanopy as well as canopy patches, indicating the coalescing influence of individual canopies on their neighboring areas. Notably, intercanopy locations within high-density (65%) woody canopy cover could be as much as ∼10°C cooler than intercanopy locations within low-density (5%) cover. Corresponding potential soil evaporation rates in intercanopies within high-density woody canopy cover was less than half that for intercanopies within low density. Our results highlight ecohydrological consequences of density-dependent shading by evergreen woody plants on soil temperature and potential soil evaporation and enable managers to rapidly estimate and compare approximate site microclimates after assessing amounts of woody canopy cover. Such predictions of microclimate have general utility for improving management of rangelands because they are a fundamental driver of many key processes, whether related to understory forage and herbaceous species or to wildlife habitat quality for game or nongame species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-20
Number of pages10
JournalRangeland Ecology and Management
Volume65
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2012

Fingerprint

microclimate
evaporation
canopy
soil
soil temperature
rangeland
woody plant
rangelands
woody plants
effect
evaporation rate
wildlife habitats
range management
ecosystems
ecosystem
habitat quality
shading
coolers
arid lands
water balance

Keywords

  • intercanopy
  • near-ground radiation
  • pinon pine
  • soil temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology

Cite this

Density-dependent ecohydrological effects of pionjuniper woody canopy cover on soil microclimate and potential soil evaporation. / Royer, Patrick D.; Breshears, David D.; Zou, Chris B.; Villegas, Juan Camilo; Cobb, Neil S; Kurc, Shirley A.

In: Rangeland Ecology and Management, Vol. 65, No. 1, 01.2012, p. 11-20.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Royer, Patrick D. ; Breshears, David D. ; Zou, Chris B. ; Villegas, Juan Camilo ; Cobb, Neil S ; Kurc, Shirley A. / Density-dependent ecohydrological effects of pionjuniper woody canopy cover on soil microclimate and potential soil evaporation. In: Rangeland Ecology and Management. 2012 ; Vol. 65, No. 1. pp. 11-20.
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