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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Assessment of Soil and Vegetation Resource Redistribution 20 Years after the Construction of a Chihuahuan Desert Water Catchment

item Walton, Mollie - NEW MEXICO STATE UNIV
item Herrick, Jeffrey
item Gibbens, Robert

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: August 15, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Patches generating water runoff are common in desert environments, resulting in loss of critical resources in arid systems. It becomes necessary to reduce the loss of resources in these systems to increase diversity and productivity. In 1975, five water catchment dikes were constructed on an area that was devoid of vegetation. The area is near the ebasin floor of the Jornada del Muerto where a physical soil crust forms under the impact of precipitation. This landscape was below a critical threshold level where the soil resources could support plant growth. The objectives of the study were to measure the establishment and persistence of seeded and native species, to examine the spatial distribution of seeds, and to measure soil physical characteristics over the area containing the water catchment dikes. Plant community samples, seed bank samples and soil samples for physical and chemical analysis were collected in the summer of 1997. All data was analyzed using geostatistical analysis. Correlations between distance to catchment dike and changes in plant community composition, seed bank distribution and soil physical characteristics were apparent. Vegetation, seed bank and soil resources were concentrated nearest to the catchment dikes. The construction of the catchment dikes on an area formerly devoid of vegetation appears to be successful and sustainable over a period of 20 years.

Last Modified: 4/19/2015