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Effects of long-term water table drawdown on evapotranspiration and vegetation in an arid region phreatophyte community
Evapotranspiration rates and the ground water component of evapotranspiration at a site in Colorado's San Luis Valley that is dominated by shrubby phreatophytes (greasewood and rabbitbrush) were compared before and after a water table drawdown. Evapotranspiration (ET) rates at the site were first measured in 1985–1987 (pre-drawdown) when the mean water table depth was 0.92 m. Regional ground water pumping has since lowered the water table by 1.58 m, to a mean of 2.50 m. We measured ET at the same site in 1999–2003 (post-drawdown), and assessed physical and biological factors affecting the response of ET to water table drawdown. Vegetation changed markedly from the pre-drawdown to the post-drawdown period as phreatophytic...