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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ASSESSING HYDROLOGIC RESPONSE OF PLANT COMMUNITIES IN THE GREAT BASIN Project Number: 5370-11220-006-03
Project Type: Specific Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 29, 2008
End Date: Jun 30, 2013

Objective:
This research will improve our knowledge-base regarding contributions that different vegetation plant communities play in producing surface runoff and soil erosion rates in rangeland watersheds. We hypotheses that alternative stable vegetative states (i.e., cheatgrass dominated sites) will have different hydrologic responses (i.e., infiltration rates, peak discharge rates, and sediment loads) than historical Wyoming sagebrush plant communities. We further hypotheses that sites that have been revegetated will be intermediate in hydrologic response to the historical and disturbed site conditions.

Approach:
The majority of the state of Nevada is rural and limited hydrologic studies have been carried out to investigate surface water hydrology in remote upland regions of the state. For rainfall, there is a limited network of meteorological stations for which data are available through the National Weather Service. Thus the measurement of surface water contributions in small rangeland catchments with intermittent surface runoff is very limited. We propose to investigate the feasibility of instrumenting existing wildlife guzzlers in Nevada to provide data on precipitation and surface runoff in remote catchments. By using a simple water balance approach with appropriate monitoring equipment for precipitation and water levels in the guzzler storage tanks, the amount of surface runoff generated by a particular natural storm can be determined. The second phase will be to estimate the hydrologic response of the different vegetative states within these catchments with a rainfall simulator (2 m wide x 6 m long) at rates 5, 10, 12.5, 15, 17.5 cm per hour. This will provide the baseline data for the watershed analysis of hydrologic response of specific vegetative states at the hillslope scale. Data from these experiments will be used to validate and improve the Rangeland Hydrology Erosion Model and the Soil Water Assessment Tool and will provide benchmark information for the USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Project. Documents SCA with U of NV-Reno. Formerly 5325-11220-006-03S (5/09).

Last Modified: 10/22/2014
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