The University of Arizona

Vegetation and water yield dynamics in an Edwards Plateau watershed.

X.B. Wu, E.J. Redeker, T.L. Thurow


Woody cover, when expressed at the scale of the 207 km2 Cusenbary Draw basin, remained unchanged (approximately 23%) from 1955 to 1990. When expressed at the scale of range sites, woody cover declined on sites with relatively high production potential and increased on sites with relatively low production potential. Change in woody cover distribution at sub-range site scales, increased low and high woody covers and decreased intermediate woody cover, would be expected to lead to increased water yield at the basin scale because there was an apparent threshold woody cover (approximately 20%) above which simulated evapotranspiration (ET) changed little with increasing woody cover. This potential increase, however, was more than offset by the decreased water yield due to increased ET loss associated with compositional changes of woody vegetation from oak to juniper. A set of woody cover-ET regression curves was developed for different range sites based on simulation studies using the SPUR-91 hydrologic model. Based on these woody cover-ET regression curves and GIS analysis, no brush management would result in a 35% decrease in water yield, while a hypothetical brush management cost-share program would increase water yield by 43% over the 1990 level. Benefits in water yield and forage production from brush management differ in different range sites. A brush management cost-share program that preferentially allocated brush management to sites with deep soil and the highest forage production potential increased water yield by 50%, compared to a 100% increase if brush management were preferentially allocated on sites with shallow soil and highest water yield potential. These model results illustrate that the spatial scale of assessment and spatial distribution of brush management among range sites should be important concerns associated with developing and evaluating brush management policies.



soil depth;water yield;water balance;multiple use;landscapes;watershed management;evapotranspiration;Prosopis glandulosa;brush control;runoff;woody plants;precipitation;spatial distribution;Texas;range management;botanical composition;Juniperus;rangelands

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