Soil C and N patterns in a semiarid piñon-juniper woodland: Topography of slope and ephemeral channels add to canopy-intercanopy heterogeneity

Darin J. Law, David D. Breshears, Michael H. Ebinger, Clifton W. Meyer, Craig D. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Carbon and nitrogen are crucial to semiarid woodlands, determining decomposition, production and redistribution of water and nutrients. Carbon and nitrogen are often greater beneath canopies than intercanopies. Upslope vs. downslope position and ephemeral channels might also cause variation in C and N. Yet, few studies have simultaneously evaluated spatial variation associated with canopy-intercanopy patches and topography. We estimated C and N upslope and downslope in an eroding piñon-juniper woodland for canopies beneath piñons (Pinus edulis) and junipers, (Juniperus monosperma), intercanopies, and ephemeral channels. Soil C and N in the surface and profile beneath canopies exceeded that of intercanopies and channels. Relative to intercanopies, channels had more profile C upslope but less downslope (profile N was not significant). Relative to upslope, profile C downslope for intercanopies was greater and for channels was less (profile N was not significant). Relative to profile, surface soil C and N exhibited less heterogeneity. Although some topographic heterogeneity was detected, results did not collectively support our redistribution hypotheses, and we are unable to distinguish if this heterogeneity is due to in situ or redistribution effects. Nonetheless, results highlight finer topographical spatial variation in addition to predominant canopy and intercanopy variation that is applicable for semiarid woodland management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-24
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Volume79
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2012

Keywords

  • Biogeochemistry
  • Carbon management and sequestration
  • Ecohydrology
  • Pinyon
  • Piñon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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