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Ecohydrology of adjacent sagebrush and lodgepole pine ecosystems: the consequences of climate change and disturbance

Ecosystems

By:
, , and
DOI: 10.1007/s10021-013-9745-1

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Abstract

Sagebrush steppe and lodgepole pine forests are two of the most widespread vegetation types in the western United States and they play crucial roles in the hydrologic cycle of these water-limited regions. We used a process-based ecosystem water model to characterize the potential impact of climate change and disturbance (wildfire and beetle mortality) on water cycling in adjacent sagebrush and lodgepole pine ecosystems. Despite similar climatic and topographic conditions between these ecosystems at the sites examined, lodgepole pine, and sagebrush exhibited consistent differences in water balance, notably more evaporation and drier summer soils in the sagebrush and greater transpiration and less water yield in lodgepole pine. Canopy disturbances (either fire or beetle) have dramatic impacts on water balance and availability: reducing transpiration while increasing evaporation and water yield. Results suggest that climate change may reduce snowpack, increase evaporation and transpiration, and lengthen the duration of dry soil conditions in the summer, but may have uncertain effects on drainage. Changes in the distribution of sagebrush and lodgepole pine ecosystems as a consequence of climate change and/or altered disturbance regimes will likely alter ecosystem water balance.

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Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Ecohydrology of adjacent sagebrush and lodgepole pine ecosystems: the consequences of climate change and disturbance
Series title:
Ecosystems
DOI:
10.1007/s10021-013-9745-1
Volume
17
Issue:
4
Year Published:
2014
Language:
English
Publisher:
Springer
Contributing office(s):
Southwest Biological Science Center
Description:
16 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Ecosystems
First page:
590
Last page:
605
Country:
United States