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ARS Home » Plains Area » Temple, Texas » Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #347986

Research Project: Resilient Management Systems and Decision Support Tools to Optimize Agricultural Production and Watershed Responses from Field to National Scale

Location: Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: Simulating the productivity of desert woody shrubs in southwestern Texas

Author
item Kim, Sumin - Oak Ridge Institute For Science And Education (ORISE)
item Kiniry, James

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/12/2018
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The conversion of native grass rangelands to woody shrublands in the southwestern U.S., threatens ecosystem health in this region. Two of the most dominant invasive shrubs, creosotebush and mesquite, have well-developed long root systems that allow them to outcompete neighboring plants. Thus, control of these two invasive shrubs is essential for revegetation in arid rangelands. Computer simulation models are valuable tools for describing invasive shrub growth and interaction between shrubs and other perennial grasses and for evaluating quantitative changes in ecosystem properties linked to shrub invasion and shrub control. In this study, a hybrid and multiscale modeling approach with two process-based computer models, ALMANAC and APEX was developed. Plant parameters and growth cycles of creosotebush and mesquite were characterized for ALMANAC using field data. The developed shrub growth curves and parameters were then used in APEX to explore productivity and range condition at a larger field scale. APEX quantitatively evaluated the effect of shrub reductions on vegetation and water and soil qualities in various topological conditions. The results of this study showed that this multi modeling approach is capable of accurately predicting the impacts of shrubs on soil water resources.

Technical Abstract: In the southwestern U.S., many rangelands have converted from native grasslands to woody shrublands dominated by creosotebush (Larrea tridentate) and honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), threatening ecosystem health. Both creosotebush and mesquite have well-developed long root systems that allow them to outcompete neighboring plants. Thus, control of these two invasive shrubs is essential for revegetation in arid rangelands. Simulation models are valuable tools for describing invasive shrub growth and interaction between shrubs and other perennial grasses and for evaluating quantitative changes in ecosystem properties linked to shrub invasion and shrub control. In this study, a hybrid and multiscale modeling approach with two process-based models, ALMANAC and APEX was developed. Through ALMANAC application, plant parameters and growth cycles of creosotebush and mesquite were characterized based on field data. The developed shrub growth curves and parameters were subsequently used in APEX to explore productivity and range condition at a larger field scale. APEX was used to quantitatively evaluate the effect of shrub reductions on vegetation and water and soil qualities in various topological conditions. The results of this study showed that this multi modeling approach is capable of accurately predicting the impacts of shrubs on soil water resources.