Spatial patterns of soil properties are linked to patchy vegetation in arid and semi-arid landscapes. The patterns of soil properties are generally assumed to be linked to the ecohydrological functioning of patchy dryland vegetation ecosystems. We studied the effects of vegetation canopy, its spatial pattern, and landforms on soil properties affecting overland flow and infiltration in shrublands at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge/LTER in central New Mexico, USA. We studied the patterns of microtopography and saturated conductivity (Ksat), and generally found it to be affected by vegetation canopy and pattern, as well as landform type. On gently sloping alluvial fans, both microtopography and Ksat are high under vegetation canopy and decay with distance from plant center. On steeper hillslope landforms, only microtopography was significantly higher under vegetation canopy, while there was no significant difference in Ksat between vegetation and interspaces. Using geostatistics, we found that the spatial pattern of soil properties was determined by the spatial pattern of vegetation. Most importantly, the effects of vegetation were present in the unvegetated interspaces 2-4 times the extent of vegetation canopy, on the order of 2-3??m. Our results have implications for the understanding the ecohydrologic function of semi-arid ecosystems as well as the parameterization of hydrologic models. ?? 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Spatial patterns of ecohydrologic properties on a hillslope-alluvial fan transect, central New Mexico