Climatic Change

, Volume 63, Issue 1–2, pp 49–90

Response of Nebraska Sand Hills Natural Vegetation to Drought, Fire, Grazing, and Plant Functional Type Shifts as Simulated by the Century Model

  • Jennifer M. Mangan
  • Jonathan T. Overpeck
  • Robert S. Webb
  • Carol Wessman
  • Alexander F. H. Goetz
Article

Abstract

The Nebraska Sand Hills exist in a semi-arid climatic environment and the land surface is grassland growing on sandy soils. These soils have been periodically active throughout the Holocene, but are currently stabilized by the vegetation. However, a shift in climate could cause grassland death and eventual sand dune remobilization. Our studies used the CENTURY nutrient cycling and ecosystem model to investigate the impacts of drought, plant functional type, fire, grazing, and erosion on Nebraska Sand Hills vegetation and dune stability. Fire and grazing alone had little impact on the vegetation, but when combined with mild drought, biomass decreased. Overall biomass increased if one plant functional type was allowed to dominate the ecosystem. Addition of as little as 1 mm of erosion per year under current climate conditions decreases vegetation as much as a drought 20 percent drier than the worst of the 1930s drought years in Nebraska.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer M. Mangan
    • 1
  • Jonathan T. Overpeck
    • 2
  • Robert S. Webb
    • 3
    • 4
  • Carol Wessman
    • 5
  • Alexander F. H. Goetz
    • 5
  1. 1.Digital Library for Earth System EducationUniversity Corporation for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderU.S.A.
  2. 2.Institute for the Study of Planet Earth and Department of GeosciencesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonU.S.A.
  3. 3.Department of Geological Sciences and INSTAARUniversity of ColoradoBoulder
  4. 4.NOAA Climate Diagnostics CenterBoulderU.S.A.
  5. 5.Department of Evolutionary, Population, and Organismic Biology and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental ScienceUniversity of ColoradoBoulderU.S.A.

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