Skip to main content

Pockman, William T

Drought and freezing are both known to limit desert plant distributions, but the interaction of these stressors is poorly understood. Drought may increase freezing tolerance in leaves while decreasing it in the xylem, potentially creating a mismatch between water supply and demand. To test this hypothesis, we subjected Larrea tridentata juveniles grown in a greenhouse under well-watered or drought conditions to minimum temperatures ranging from -8 to -24 �C. We measured survival, leaf retention, gas exchange, cell death, freezing point depression and leaf-specific xylem hydraulic conductance (k?). Drought-exposed plants exhibited smaller decreases in gas exchange after exposure to -8 �C compared to well-watered...
Increases in the abundance or density of woody plants in historically semiarid and arid grassland ecosystems have important ecological, hydrological, and socioeconomic implications. Using a simplified water-balance model, we propose a framework for conceptualizing how woody plant encroachment is likely to affect components of the water cycle within these ecosystems. We focus in particular on streamflow and the partitioning of evapotranspiration into evaporation and transpiration. On the basis of this framework, we suggest that streamflow and evaporation processes are affected by woody plant encroachment in different ways, depending on the degree and seasonality of aridity and the availability of subsurface water....
Global environmental change is altering temperature, precipitation patterns, and resource availability in aridland ecosystems. In 2006, we established a multifactor global change experiment to determine the interactive effects of nighttime warming, increased atmospheric N deposition, and more frequent occurrence of El Ni�o years on plant community dynamics in a northern Chihuahuan Desert grassland. Here we only report the results of warming and N addition from the first monsoon growing season prior to the imposition of the precipitation treatments. Our passive nighttime warming treatment increased daily minimum temperatures by 1.4?3.0 �C. Fertilization increased NO3N supply, as measured with Root Simulator Probes,...
Woody plant encroachment is affecting vegetation composition in arid grasslands worldwide and has been associated with a number of environmental drivers and feedbacks. It has been argued that the relatively abrupt character (both in space and in time) of grassland-to-shrubland transitions observed in many drylands around the world might result from positive feedbacks in the underlying ecosystem dynamics. In the case of the Chihuahuan Desert, we show that one such feedback could emerge from interactions between vegetation and microclimate conditions. Shrub establishment modifies surface energy fluxes, causing an increase in nighttime air temperature, particularly during wintertime. The resulting change in winter...
ScienceBase brings together the best information it can find about USGS researchers and offices to show connections to publications, projects, and data. We are still working to improve this process and information is by no means complete. If you don't see everything you know is associated with you, a colleague, or your office, please be patient while we work to connect the dots. Feel free to contact sciencebase@usgs.gov.