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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Influence of Precipitation Timing on the Sagebrush Steppe Ecosystem.

Authors
item Svejcar, Anthony
item Bates, Jonathan
item Angell, Raymond
item Miller, Richard - OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: University of Arizona Press
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: August 20, 2002
Publication Date: June 1, 2003
Citation: SVEJCAR, A.J., BATES, J.D., ANGELL, R.F., MILLER, R.F. THE INFLUENCE OF PRECIPITATION TIMING ON THE SAGEBRUSH STEPPE ECOSYSTEM. MCPHERSON, G., WELTZIN, J., EDITORS. UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA PRESS. CHANGING PRECIPITATION REGIMES & TERRESTRIAL ECOSYSTEMS. 2003. P. 90-106.

Interpretive Summary: The Great Basin is known for its highly variable climate. Some current climatic models suggest that atmospheric warming could shift precipitation from winter to spring in this region. Land managers face the difficult task of separating the impacts of management from the impacts of yearly weather variation. We conducted a study to evaluate the impacts of precipitation timing (with amount held constant) on sagebrush/bunchgrass plant communities. A shift from the current winter-dominated pattern to a more spring/early summer pattern had negative impacts on productivity and plant cover. These results are contrary to traditional thinking, and suggest that such a shift would reduce forage production and increase the chances of weed invasion.

Technical Abstract: The Great Basin is known for its highly variable climate. Some current climatic models suggest that atmospheric warming could shift precipitation from winter to spring in this region. Land managers face the difficult task of separating the impacts of management from the impacts of yearly weather variation. We conducted a study to evaluate the impacts of precipitation timing (with amount held constant) on sagebrush/bunchgrass plant communities. A shift from the current winter-dominated pattern to a more spring/early summer pattern had negative impacts on productivity and plant cover. These results are contrary to traditional thinking, and suggest that such a shift would reduce forage production and increase the chances of weed invasion.

Last Modified: 7/24/2014
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