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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Reno, Nevada » Great Basin Rangelands Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #327341

Research Project: Invasive Species Assessment and Control to Enhance Sustainability of Great Basin Rangelands

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

Title: A review of concentrated flow erosion processes on rangelands: fundamental understanding and knowledge gaps

Author
item NOUWAKPO, SAYJRO - UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA
item Williams, Christopher - Jason
item AL-HANDAN, OSAMA - TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
item Weltz, Mark
item Pierson, Fred
item NEARING, MARK

Submitted to: International Soil and Water Conservation Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/25/2016
Publication Date: 6/17/2016
Citation: Nouwakpo, S.K., Williams, C.J., Al-Handan, O., Weltz, M.A., Pierson, F.B., Nearing, M.A. 2016. A review of concentrated flow erosion processes on rangelands: fundamental understanding and knowledge gaps. International Soil and Water Conservation Research. 4(2):75-86.

Interpretive Summary: Hillslope erosion processes are divided into: interrill erosion or splash and sheet erosion occurring when a thin layer of runoff transports soil material detached by raindrop and rill or concentrated flow erosion which occurs when flow becomes deep and creates further erosion leaving behind distinctively visible erosional channels. Concentrated flow erosion processes are distinguished from splash and sheet processes in their enhanced ability to mobilize and transport large amounts of soil, water and dissolved elements. On rangelands, soil, nutrients and water are scarce and only narrow margins of resource losses are tolerable before crossing the sustainability threshold. In these ecosystems, concentrated flow processes are perceived as indicators of degradation and often warrant the implementation of mitigation strategies. Nevertheless, this negative perception of concentrated flow processes may conflict with the need to improve understanding of the role of these transport vessels in redistributing water, soil and nutrients along the rangeland hillslope. Vegetation influences the development and erosion of concentrated flowpaths and has been the primary factor used to control and mitigate erosion on rangelands. At the ecohydrologic level, vegetation and concentrated flow pathways are engaged in a feedback relationship, the understanding of which might help improve rangeland management and restoration strategies. In this paper, we review published literature on experimental and conceptual research pertaining to concentrated flow processes on rangelands to: (1) present the fundamental science underpinning concentrated flow erosion modeling in these landscapes, (2) discuss the influence of vegetation on these erosion processes, (3) evaluate the contribution of concentrated flow erosion to overall sediment budget and (4) identify knowledge gaps.

Technical Abstract: Concentrated flow erosion processes are distinguished from splash and sheetflow processes in their enhanced ability to mobilize and transport large amounts of soil, water and dissolved elements. On rangelands, soil, nutrients and water are scarce and only narrow margins of resource losses are tolerable before crossing the sustainability threshold. In these ecosystems, concentrated flow processes are perceived as indicators of degradation and often warrant the implementation of mitigation strategies. Nevertheless, this negative perception of concentrated flow processes may conflict with the need to improve understanding of the role of these transport vessels in redistributing water, soil and nutrients along the rangeland hillslope. Vegetation influences the development and erosion of concentrated flowpaths and has been the primary factor used to control and mitigate erosion on rangelands. At the ecohydrologic level, vegetation and concentrated flow pathways are engaged in a feedback relationship, the understanding of which might help improve rangeland management and restoration strategies. In this paper, we review published literature on experimental and conceptual research pertaining to concentrated flow processes on rangelands to: (1) present the fundamental science underpinning concentrated flow erosion modeling in these landscapes, (2) discuss the influence of vegetation on these erosion processes, (3) evaluate the contribution of concentrated flow erosion to overall sediment budget and (4) identify knowledge gaps.