Advertisement

Oecologia

, Volume 88, Issue 3, pp 430–434 | Cite as

Differential utilization of summer rains by desert plants

  • James R. Ehleringer
  • Susan L. Phillips
  • William S. F. Schuster
  • Darren R. Sandquist
Original Papers

Summary

Seasonal changes in the hydrogen isotope ratios of xylem waters were measured to determine water sources used for growth in desert plants of southern Utah. While all species used winter-spring recharge precipitation for spring growth, utilization of summer rains was life-form dependent. Annuals and succulent perennials exhibited a complete dependence on summer precipitation. Herbaceous and woody perennial species simultaneously utilized both summer precipitation and remaining winter-spring precipitation, with herbaceous species much more reliant on the summer precipitation component. Several of the woody perennials exhibited no response to summer precipitation. Currently, precipitation in southern Utah is evenly partitioned between winter and summer time periods; however, global circulation models predict that summer precipitation will increase in response to anticipated climate change. Our data indicate that components within the community will differentially responde to the change in precipitation patterns. These results are discussed in relation to impact on competition and possible changes in community structure.

Key words

Hydrogen isotope ratio Desert ecology Water source Climate change 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Adar E, Long A (1987) Oxygen-18 and deuterium distribution in rainfall, runoff and groundwater in a small semi-arid basin: the Aravaipa Valley in the Sonora Desert, Arizona. In: Proceedings of an International Symposium on the Use of Isotope Techniques in Water Resources Development. IAEA, Vienna, pp 257–273Google Scholar
  2. Beatley JC (1974) Phenological events and their environmental triggers in Mojave Desert ecosystems. Ecology 55:856–863Google Scholar
  3. Benson L, Klieforth H (1989) Stable isotopes in precipitation and ground water in the Yucca Mountain region, Southern Nevada: paleoclimatic implications. In: Peterson DH (ed) Aspects of Climate Variability in the Pacific and the Western Americas. American Geophysical Union, Washington DC, pp 41–59Google Scholar
  4. Caldwell MM (1985) Cold desert. In: Mooney HA, Chabot BF (eds) Physiological Ecology of North American Plant Communities, Chapman and Hall, New York London, pp 198–212Google Scholar
  5. Cannon WA (1911) The root habits of desert plants. In: Carnegie Institution of Washington Yearbook, vol 131, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington DC, pp 1–96Google Scholar
  6. Coleman MC, Shepherd TJ, Durham JJ, Rouse JD, Moore GR (1982) Reduction of water with zinc for hydrogen isotope analysis. Anal Chem 54:993–995Google Scholar
  7. Dansgaard W (1964) Stable isotopes in precipitation. Tellus 16:436–468Google Scholar
  8. Ehleringer JR (1984) Intraspecific competitive effects on water relations, growth and reproduction in Encelia farinosa. Oecologia 63:153–158Google Scholar
  9. Ehleringer JR (1985) Annuals and perennials of warm deserts. In: Mooney HA, Chabot BF (eds) Physiological Ecology of North American Plant Communities. Chapman and Hall, New York London, pp 162–180Google Scholar
  10. Ehleringer JR, Mooney HA (1983) Productivity of desert and Mediterranean-climate plants. In: Lange OL, Nobel PS, Osmond CB, Ziegler H (eds) Physiological Plant Ecology IV. (Ency. Plant Physiol. NS, vol 12D) Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 205–231Google Scholar
  11. Ehleringer JR, Osmond CB (1989) Stable isotopes. In: Pearcy RW, Ehleringer JR, Mooney HA, Rundel PW (eds) Plant Physiological Ecology Field Methods and Instrumentation. Chapman and Hall, New York London pp 281–300Google Scholar
  12. Eschen GF von (1958) Climatic trends in New Mexico. Weatherwise 21:191–195Google Scholar
  13. Everett RL, Tueller PT, Davis JB, Brunner AD (1980) Plant phenology in galleta-shadscale and galleta-sagebrush associations. J Range Manage 33:446–450Google Scholar
  14. Farquhar GD, Ehleringer JR, Hubick KT (1989) Carbon isotope discrimination and photosynthesis. Ann Rev Plant Physiol Mol Biol 40:503–537Google Scholar
  15. Fernandez OA, Caldwell MM (1975) Phenology and dynamics of root growth of three cool semi-desert shrubs under field conditions. J Ecol 63:703–714Google Scholar
  16. Flanagan LB, Ehleringer JR (1991) Stable isotope composition of stem and leaf water: applications to the study of plant water use. Funct Ecol 5:270–277Google Scholar
  17. Fonteyn PJ, Mahall BE Competition among desert perennials. Nature 275:544–545Google Scholar
  18. Forseth IN, Ehleringer JR, Werk KS, Cook CS (1984) Field water relations of Sonoran Desert annuals. Ecology 65:1436–1444Google Scholar
  19. Fowler N (1986) The role of competition in plant communities in arid and semi-arid regions. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 17:89–110Google Scholar
  20. Hadley NF, Szarek SR (1981) Productivity of desert ecosystems. BioScience 31:747–753Google Scholar
  21. Hodgkinson KC, Johnson PS, Norton BE (1978) Influence of summer rainfall on root and shoot growth of a cold-winter desert shrub, Atriplex confertifolia. Oecologia 34:353–362Google Scholar
  22. Ingraham NL, Taylor BE (1991) Light stable isotope systematics of large-scale hydrologic regimes in California and Nevada. Water-Resource Res 27:77–90Google Scholar
  23. MacMahon JA, Schimpf DJ (1981) Water as a factor in the biology of North American desert plants. In: Evans DD, Thames JL (eds) Water In Desert Ecosystems. Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross, Stroudsberg, Pa., pp 114–171Google Scholar
  24. Manning SJ, Barbour MG (1988) Root systems, spatial patterns, and competition for soil moisture between two desert subshrubs. Am J Bot 75:885–893Google Scholar
  25. Manning SJ, Groenveld DP (1989) Shrub rooting characteristics and water acquisition on xeric sites in the western Great Basin. In: Proceedings Symposium on Cheatgrass Invasion, Shrub Die-off, and Other Aspects of Shrub Biology and Management. US Forest Service Tech Report INT-276 pp 238–244Google Scholar
  26. Markham CG (1970) Seasonality of precipitation in the United States. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 60:593–597Google Scholar
  27. McDonald JE (1956) Variability of precipitation in an arid region: a survey of characteristics for Arizona. In: Technical reports on the meteorology and climatology of arid regions, Tech Rept No 1, Univ Arizona Atmos Physics, TucsonGoogle Scholar
  28. Milne WK, Benson LV, McKinley PW (1987) Isotope content and temperature of precipitation in southern Nevada, August 1983–August 1986. US Geol Surv Open-File Report 87-463 pp 1–38Google Scholar
  29. Robberecht R, Mahall BE, Nobel PS (1983) Experimental removal of intraspecific competitors-effects on water relations and productivity of a desert bunchgrass, Hilaria rigida. Oecologia 60:21–24Google Scholar
  30. Schlesinger ME, Mitchell JFB (1987) Climate model simulations of the equilibrium climatic response to increased carbon dioxide. Rev Geophys 25:760–798Google Scholar
  31. Sellers WD, Hill RH (1974) Arizona Climate 1931–1974. University of Arizona Press, TucsonGoogle Scholar
  32. Simpson ES, Thorud DB, Friedman I (1972) Distinguishing seasonal recharge to groundwater by deuterium analysis in southern Arizona. In: World Water Balance, vol 3, UNESCO, Paris pp 623–633Google Scholar
  33. Smith SD, Nowak RS (1990) Ecophysiology of plants in the intermountain lowlands. In: Osmond CB, Pitelka LF, Hidy GM (eds) Plant Biology of the Basin and Range (Ecological Studies vol. 80). Springer Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 179–241Google Scholar
  34. Stockton CW, Meko DM (1975) A long-term history of drought occurrence in the western United States as inferred from tree rings. Weatherwise 28:244–249Google Scholar
  35. Turner RM (1990) Long-term vegetation change at a fully protected Sonoran Desert site. Ecology 71:464–477Google Scholar
  36. Turner FB, Randall DC (1987) The phenology of desert shrubs in southern Nevada. J Arid Environ 13:119–128Google Scholar
  37. Whittaker RH, Niering WA (1975) Vegetation of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona. V. Biomass, production, and diversity along the elevation gradient. Ecology 56:771–790Google Scholar
  38. Williams HE (1979) An analysis of precipitation patterns and trends in the North American Desert region. PhD Thesis University of Arizona, TucsonGoogle Scholar
  39. Winograd IJ, Szabo BJ, Coplen TB, Riggs AC, Kolesar PT (1985) Two-million-year record of deuterium depletion in Great Basin ground waters. Science 227:519–522Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • James R. Ehleringer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Susan L. Phillips
    • 1
    • 2
  • William S. F. Schuster
    • 1
    • 2
  • Darren R. Sandquist
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Stable Isotope Ratio Facility for Environmental ResearchUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

Personalised recommendations