Monosoonal precipitation responses of shrubs in a cold desert community on the Colorado Plateau
Lin, G. H.
Phillips, S. L.
Ehleringer, J. R.
- 生命科学－已发表论文 
South-eastern Utah forms a northern border for the region currently influenced by the Arizona monosoonal system, which feeds moisture and summer precipitation into western North America. One major consequence predicted by global climate change scenarios is an intensification of monosoonal (summer) precipitation in the aridland areas of the western United States. We examined the capacity of dominant perennial shrubs in a Colorado Plateau cold desert ecosystem of southern Utah, United States, to use summer moisture inputs. We simulated increases of 25 and 50 mm summer rain events on Atriplex canescens, Artemisia filifolia, Chrysothamus nauseosus, Coleogyne ramosissima, and Vanclevea stylosa, in July and September with an isotopically enriched water (enriched in deuterium but not O-18). The uptake of this artificial water source was estimated by analyzing hydrogen and oxygen isotope ratios of stem water. The predawn and midday xylem water potentials and foliar carbon isotope discrimination were measured to estimate changes in water status and water-use efficiency. At. canescens and Ch. nauseosus showed little if any uptake of summer rains in either July or September. The predawn and midday xylem water potentials for control and treatment plants of these two species were not significantly different from each other. For A. filifolia and V. stylosa, up to 50% of xylem water was from the simulated summer rain, but the predawn and midday xylem water potentials were not significantly affected by the additional summer moisture input. In contrast, C. ramosissima showed significant uptake of the simulated summer rain (>50% of xylem water was from the artificial summer rain) and an increase in both predawn and midday water potentials. The percent uptake of simulated summer rain was greater when those rains were applied in September than in July, implying that high soil temperature in midsummer may in some way inhibit water uptake. Foliar carbon isotope discrimination increased significantly in the three shrubs taking up simulated summer rain, but pre-treatment differences in the absolute discrimination values were maintained among species. The ecological implications of our results are discussed in terms of the dynamics of this desert community in response to changes in the frequency and dependability of summer rains that might be associated with a northward shift in the Arizona monsoon boundary.