The University of Arizona

Autumn and spring drought periods affect vegetation on high elevation rangelands of Turkey.

A. Koc


The amount and temporal distribution of precipitation received is of critical importance for regrowth and plant production on rangelands. The effects of drought in the autumn, and spring/summer, as they affected sheep fescue (Festuca ovina L.) dominated vegetation in Eastern Anatolia, Turkey, were examined between 1996 and 1998. Artificial drought was created using polyethylene rain-out shelters. The experiment was a randomized complete block design with 3 replications with a split-plot arrangement of treatments. Main plots included 2 autumn treatments: imposed artificial autumn-drought or a 40 mm of additional water plus rain. Sub-plots contained 4 treatments: artificial drought in May, June, July, or full spring rainfall. The number of reproductive shoots, aboveground biomass production, protein content, protein yield, canopy coverage and botanical composition were determined. Reproductive shoot numbers were reduced from 617 to 31 m(-2) when plants entered winter without autumn regrowth as a result of autumn-drought. Plots subjected to drought in the autumn had aboveground biomass of 424 kg ha(-1). Protein content of forage, crude protein yield and water use efficiency (WUE) were 11.6%, 49 kg ha(-1) and 1.5, respectively. These were compared with 1,038 kg ha(-1), 9.6%, 99 kg ha(-1), and 2.4, respectively, for plots received normal autumn precipitation in addition to 40 mm of additional water. Aboveground biomass production increased as short-term drought in spring was delayed but WUE was decreased. Autumn-drought had no effect on the proportion of grasses, but reduced legumes and resulted in an increase in other species. Spring/summer-drought had no effect on legumes but, as the onset of drought was delayed, grasses decreased and other species increased in composition. Autumn-drought reduced canopy coverage from 34.7% to 23.8% but spring drought had a negligible effect. Results indicated that autumn precipitation was crucial for productivity of these high elevation rangelands.



Turkey (country);Festuca ovina;autumn;ground cover;semiarid grasslands;temporal variation;rain;water use efficiency;spring;regrowth;crude protein;drought injury;biomass production;semiarid zones;drought;botanical composition;rangelands;canopy;grasses

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