• Rainfall Interception by Midgrass, Shortgrass, and Live Oak Mottes

      Thurow, T. L.; Blackburn, W. H.; Warren, S. D.; Taylor, C. A. (Society for Range Management, 1987-09-01)
      Interception, as a function of simulated rainfall intensity and duration, was determined for a midgrass [sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula (Michx.) Torr.)] and a shortgrass [curleymesquite (Hilaria belangeri (Steud.) Nash)]. In addition, the redistribution of natural precipitation via plant interception was determined for live oak (Quercus virginiana Mill.) mottes. Interception storage capacity for sideoats grama and curleymesquite was 81 and 114% of dry weight, respectively. This difference was attributed to physical characteristics of the species and their respective growth forms. However, because sites dominated by sideoats grama had more standing biomass (3,640 kg ha-1) than sites dominated by curleymesquite (1,490 kg ha-1), it was estimated that a sideoats grama dominated site had an interception storage capacity of 1.8 mm compared to curleymesquite dominated site with an interception storage capacity of 1.0 mm. Based upon precipitation event size and distribution for the study site at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station near Sonora, Texas, the estimated interception loss for curleymesquite dominated sites was 10.8% of annual precipitation, compared to 18.1% interception loss for sideoats grama dominated sites. Only 54% of the annual precipitation reached mineral soil beneath the oak mottes as throughfall or stemflow. The remainder of the precipitation was intercepted by the motte canopy or litter layer and evaporated. Due to the water concentrating effect of stemflow, soil near the base of trees received about 222% of annual precipitation. Soil at a distance greater than approximately 100 mm from a tree trunk received only 50.6% of annual rainfall. Individual tree canopy width, height and depth measurements were insignificant predictors of stemflow and throughfall. Interception, throughfall and stemflow, expressed as percent of storm precipitation, were well-defined curvilinear functions.