drought

Impact of experimental drought on greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient availability in a humid tropical forest

Abstract: 
We excluded throughfall from humid tropical forests in Puerto Rico for a period of three months to determine how drought affects greenhouse gas emissions from tropical forest soils. We established five 1.24 m2 throughfall exclusion and five control plots of equal size in three sites located on ridges, slopes, and an upland valley dominated by palms (total of 30 plots). We measured weekly changes in carbon dioxide (CO2) and bi-weekly changes in nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) in response to manipulation. We additionally measured the effects of throughfall exclusion on soil temperature and moisture, nutrient availability, and pH. Rainout shelters significantly reduced throughfall by 22 to 32 % and decreased soil moisture by 16 to 36% (top 10 cm). Rates of CO2 emissions decreased significantly in the ridge and slope sites (30%, 28%, respectively), but not the palm during the experimental drought. In contrast, the palm site became a significantly stronger sink for CH4 in response to drying (480% decline relative to controls), while CH4 fluxes in the ridge and slope sites did not respond to drought. Both the palm and ridge site became a sink for N2O in response to drought and the slope site followed a similar trend. Soil pH and available P decreased significantly in response to soil drying; however, available N was not affected. Variability in the response of greenhouse gas emissions to drought among the three sites highlights the complexity of biogeochemical cycling in tropical forested ecosystems, as well as the need for research that incorporates the high degree of spatial heterogeneity in experimental designs. Our results show that humid tropical forests are sensitive to climate change and that short-term declines in rainfall could result in a negative feedback to climate change via lowered greenhouse gas emissions and increased greenhouse gas consumption by soils.

Variability of DOC and nitrate responses to storms in a small Mediterranean forested catchment

Bernal, S., A. Butturini, and F. Sabater (2002), Variability of DOC and
nitrate responses to storms in a small Mediterranean forested catchment,
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 6, 1031– 1041.

Abstract: 
Severe drought periods followed by intense rainfall often leads to major floods in Mediterranean catchments. The resulting hydrology is complex and the response of solutes in the streams is often unpredictable. This study aimed to identify the most relevant factors controlling the hydrological responses to storms of an intermittent Mediterranean stream and to link those factors with dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nitrate during storm events. Measurements of climate, hydrology, DOC and nitrate concentrations during 26 storm events over three hydrological years were analysed. The contribution of the storm events to the total DOC and nitrate annual export was also calculated. Nitrate was mainly mobilised during high flow, while most of the DOC export occurred during baseflow. Solute concentrations peaked after drought periods and the solute export was maximal during the largest rainfalls (i.e.>100 L m-2). One single large storm contributed some 22% of the total annual export of DOC, and about 80% of that of nitrate. Discharge was a good predictor of neither DOC nor nitrate responses, so variables other than discharge were considered. Factor Analysis was used to identify the main factors controlling the biogeochemical responses. Antecedent moisture conditions and the magnitude of the storm event were the most relevant factors and accounted for 63% of the total variance. Solute responses during high flow were highly variable. However, solute concentration changes showed a significant and moderate relationship with the factors controlling the hydrological responses (i.e. Δ DOC v. the antecedent moisture conditions and Δ NO3-N v. the magnitude of the storm event).

ANALYSIS OF 2OTH CENTURY RAINFALL AND STREAMFLOW TO CHARACTERIZE DROUGHT AND WATER RESOURCES IN PUERTO RICO

Larsen, M.C., 2000, Analysis of 20th century rainfall and streamflow to characterize drought and water resources in Puerto Rico: Physical Geography, v. 21, p. 494-521.

Abstract: 
During the period from 1990 to 1997, annual rainfall accumulation averaged 87% of normal at the 12 stations with the longest period of record in Puerto Rico, a Caribbean island with a 1999 population of 3.8 million. Streamflow in rivers supplying the La Plata and Loíza reservoirs, the principal water supply of the San Juan metropolitan area, was at or below the 10th flow percentile for 27% to 50% of the time between December 1993 and May 1996. Diminished reservoir levels in 1994 and 1995 affected more than 1 million people in the San Juan metropolitan area. Water rationing was implemented during this period and significant agricultural losses, valued at $165 million, were recorded in 1994. The public endured a year of mandatory water rationing in which sections of the city had their water-distribution networks shut off for 24 to 36 hours on alternate days. During the winter and spring of 1997–1998, water was rationed to more than 200,000 people in northwestern Puerto Rico because water level in the Guajataca reservoir was well below normal for two years because of rainfall deficits. The drought period of 1993– 1996 was comparable in magnitude to a drought in 1966–1968, but water rationing was more severe during the 1993–1996 period, indicating that water management issues such as demand, storage capacity, water production and losses, and per capita consumption are increasingly important as population and development in Puerto Rico expand.

Linking habitat stability to floods and droughts: effects on shrimp in montane streams, Puerto Rico

COVICH, A. P., T. A. CROWL, AND F. N. SCATENA. 2000. Linking
habitat stability to floods and droughts: effects on
shrimp in montane streams, Puerto Rico. Verhandlungen
der Internationalen Vereinigung fu¨ r theorestische und
angewandte Limnologie 27:2430–2434.

Abstract: 
Most previous studies on Caribbean flood and drought frequency have examined hydrological (e.g. MORRIS & VAZQUEZ 1990, GARCIA et al. 1996) rather than ecological effects (COVICH et al. 1998). We analyzed temporal and spatial distributions of rainfall, stream flow, and mean maximum pool depth over an 8-year period (1990–1997) to evaluate effects of variable flows. We examined the response of a biotic variable (the coefficient of variation in shrimp densities) to changes in water depth (coefficient of variation of maximum pool depth) along an elevational gradient.

Linking habitat stability to floods and droughts: effects on shrimp in montane streams, Puerto Rico

Covich A.P., Crowl T.A. & Scatena F.N. (2000) Linking
habitat stability to floods and droughts: effects on
shrimp in montane streams, Puerto Rico. Verhandlungen
der Internationalen Vereinigung fu¨r Theoretische und
Angewandte Limnologie, 27, 2430–2434.

Abstract: 
Most previous studies on Caribbean flood and drought frequency have examined hydrological (e.g. MORRIS & VAZQUEZ 1990, GARCIA et al. 1996) rather than ecological effects (COVICH et al. 1998). We analyzed temporal and spatial distributions of rainfall, stream flow, and mean maximum pool depth over an 8-year period (1990–1997) to evaluate effects of variable flows. We examined the response of a biotic variable (the coefficient of variation in shrimp densities) to changes in water depth (coefficient of variation of maximum pool depth) along an elevational gradient.

STRUCTURAL AND FUNCTIONAL RESPONSES OF A SUBTROPICAL FOREST TO 10 YEARS OF HURRICANES AND DROUGHTS

Beard, Karen H., Kristiina A. Vogt, Daniel J. Vogt, Frederick N. Scatena, Alan P. Covich, Ragnhildur Sigurdardottir, Thomas G. Siccama, and Todd A. Crowl. 2005. STRUCTURAL AND FUNCTIONAL RESPONSES OF A SUBTROPICAL FOREST TO 10 YEARS OF HURRICANES AND DROUGHTS. Ecological Monographs 75:345–361. [doi:10.1890/04-1114]

Abstract: 
Little is known about ecosystem-level responses to multiple, climatic disturbance events. In the subtropical forests of Puerto Rico, the major natural disturbances are hurricanes and droughts. We tested the ecosystem-level effects of these disturbances in sites with different land use histories. From 1989 to 1992, data were collected to determine the effects of Hurricane Hugo and two droughts on litterfall inputs, fine-root biomass, and decomposition rates in three topographic locations (stream, riparian, upslope) within two watersheds. From 1994 to 1998, we added a third watershed and an experiment in which coarse-wood levels were manipulated to simulate hurricane inputs. Data were collected on tree and palm growth rates, litterfall inputs, fine-root biomass, and decomposition rates. From 1994 to 1998, four hurricanes and three droughts were recorded. Measured parameters had unique responses and recovery rates to hurricanes and droughts. Litterfall inputs returned to long-term mean rates within one month following droughts and small-to-moderate hurricanes but required five years to recover after an intense hurricane. In contrast, fine-root biomass recovered seven months after an intense hurricane but failed to recover after five years following a severe drought. Despite the dramatic effects of these weather events on some ecosystem parameters, we found that aboveground measures of tree and palm growth were more affected by preexisting site conditions (e.g., nitrogen availability due to past land use activities) than hurricanes or droughts. The addition of coarse woody debris increased tree and palm growth, fine-root biomass, and litter production; however, in the case of tree and palm growth, this effect was least measurable in the sites with the highest productivity. We found that decomposition rates were more controlled by litter quality than weather conditions. In conclusion, we found that certain ecosystem structures (e.g., canopy structure and fine-root biomass) generally recovered more slowly from disturbance events than certain ecosystem processes (e.g., plant growth rates, decomposition rates). We also found that past land use activities and disturbance legacies were important in determining the responses and recovery rates of the ecosystem to disturbance.

Effects of extreme low flows on freshwater shrimps in a perennial tropical stream

COVICH, A.P.; CROWL, T.A.; SCATENA, F.N. 2003. Effects of extreme low flows on freshwater shrimps in a perennial tropical stream.. Freshwater Biology 48, 1199-1206.

Abstract: 
1. Long-term data on rainfall suggests that perennial rainforest streams rarely are subject to drying of riffles or pools in the wet, non-seasonal Caribbean climate of Puerto Rico. Unusually low rainfall in 1994 caused some headwater riffles to dry out completely, resulting in isolated pools, reduced pool volumes and loss of access to microhabitats by benthic invertebrates. 2. From 1992 to 1998, shrimp populations were sampled bimonthly using baited traps in six pools along 1200 m (from 305 to 480 m in altitude) of Quebrada Prieta, a second-order headwater stream in the Luquillo Experimental Forest (Caribbean National Forest). 3. Following contraction of the smaller and shallower pools in the most upstream sectionof the stream, mean densities of the dominant shrimp (Atya lanipes) increased from 22 to 75shrimp m)2 of pool area during the 1994 drought year. A second common species(Xiphocaris elongata) increased from 5 to 14 shrimp m)2. A smaller percentage of adults of both species was gravid during the drought. 4. Following the 1994 drought (1995–1998), densities of both shrimp species and reproductive activity of Atya returned to predrought (1990–1993) levels. However, the reproductive activity of Xiphocaris remained lower than in the predrought period. 5. It is suggested that prolonged droughts, even in tropical rainforest biomes, may significantly alter aquatic communities through localised crowding effects resulting from habitat contraction, and lead to prolonged decreases in reproductive output. Consequently, major alterations in aquatic populations and communities would be predicted by current climate change scenarios of decreased total rainfall and increased variability.

STRUCTURAL AND FUNCTIONAL RESPONSES OF A SUBTROPICAL FOREST TO 10 YEARS OF HURRICANES AND DROUGHTS

Beard, Karen H., Kristiina A. Vogt, Daniel J. Vogt, Frederick N. Scatena, Alan P. Covich, Ragnhildur Sigurdardottir, Thomas G. Siccama, and Todd A. Crowl. 2005. STRUCTURAL AND FUNCTIONAL RESPONSES OF A SUBTROPICAL FOREST TO 10 YEARS OF HURRICANES AND DROUGHTS. Ecological Monographs 75:345–361. [doi:10.1890/04-1114]

Abstract: 
Little is known about ecosystem-level responses to multiple, climatic disturbance events. In the subtropical forests of Puerto Rico, the major natural disturbances are hurricanes and droughts. We tested the ecosystem-level effects of these disturbances in sites with different land use histories. From 1989 to 1992, data were collected to determine the effects of Hurricane Hugo and two droughts on litterfall inputs, fine-root biomass, and decomposition rates in three topographic locations (stream, riparian, upslope) within two watersheds. From 1994 to 1998, we added a third watershed and an experiment in which coarse-wood levels were manipulated to simulate hurricane inputs. Data were collected on tree and palm growth rates, litterfall inputs, fine-root biomass, and decomposition rates. From 1994 to 1998, four hurricanes and three droughts were recorded. Measured parameters had unique responses and recovery rates to hurricanes and droughts. Litterfall inputs returned to long-term mean rates within one month following droughts and small-to-moderate hurricanes but required five years to recover after an intense hurricane. In contrast, fine-root biomass recovered seven months after an intense hurricane but failed to recover after five years following a severe drought. Despite the dramatic effects of these weather events on some ecosystem parameters, we found that aboveground measures of tree and palm growth were more affected by preexisting site conditions (e.g., nitrogen availability due to past land use activities) than hurricanes or droughts. The addition of coarse woody debris increased tree and palm growth, fine-root biomass, and litter production; however, in the case of tree and palm growth, this effect was least measurable in the sites with the highest productivity. We found that decomposition rates were more controlled by litter quality than weather conditions. In conclusion, we found that certain ecosystem structures (e.g., canopy structure and fine-root biomass) generally recovered more slowly from disturbance events than certain ecosystem processes (e.g., plant growth rates, decomposition rates). We also found that past land use activities and disturbance legacies were important in determining the responses and recovery rates of the ecosystem to disturbance.
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