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Water 2018, 10(2), 181; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10020181

Ecohydrologic Connections in Semiarid Watershed Systems of Central Oregon USA

1
Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
2
Water Resources Graduate Program, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
3
Natural Resources Division, Turner Enterprises, Inc., Bozeman, MT 59718, USA
4
OSU Extension Service-Crook County, Oregon State University, Prineville, OR 97754, USA
5
Institute for Water and Watersheds, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
6
Sustainable Agriculture Science Center, New Mexico State University, Alcalde, NM 87511, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 December 2017 / Revised: 31 January 2018 / Accepted: 5 February 2018 / Published: 9 February 2018
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Abstract

An improved understanding of ecohydrologic connections is critical for improving land management decisions in water-scarce regions of the western United States. For this study, conducted in a semiarid (358 mm) rangeland location in central Oregon, we evaluated precipitation-interception-soil moisture dynamics at the plot scale and characterized surface water and groundwater relations across the landscape including areas with and without western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis). Results from this study show that juniper woodlands intercepted up to 46% of total precipitation, altering soil moisture distribution under the canopy and in the interspace. Results indicate that precipitation reaching the ground can rapidly percolate through the soil profile and into the shallow aquifer, and that strong hydrologic connections between surface and groundwater components exist during winter precipitation and snowmelt runoff seasons. Greater streamflow and springflow rates were observed in the treated watershed when compared to the untreated. Streamflow rates up to 1020 L min−1 and springflow rates peaking 190 L min−1 were observed in the watershed where juniper was removed 13 years ago. In the untreated watershed, streamflow rates peaked at 687 L min−1 and springflow rates peaked at 110 L min−1. Results contribute to improved natural resource management through a better understanding of the biophysical connections occurring in rangeland ecosystems and the role that woody vegetation encroachment may have on altering the hydrology of the site. View Full-Text
Keywords: watershed; hydrologic connections; surface water; groundwater; ecohydrology; western juniper; central Oregon; rangelands watershed; hydrologic connections; surface water; groundwater; ecohydrology; western juniper; central Oregon; rangelands
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Ochoa, C.G.; Caruso, P.; Ray, G.; Deboodt, T.; Jarvis, W.T.; Guldan, S.J. Ecohydrologic Connections in Semiarid Watershed Systems of Central Oregon USA. Water 2018, 10, 181.

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