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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 93 No. 2, p. 338-348
    Received: Mar 17, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): bremer@ksu.edu
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Evapotranspiration in a Prairie Ecosystem

  1. Dale J. Bremer *,
  2. Lisa M. Auen,
  3. Jay M. Ham and
  4. Clenton E. Owensby
  1. Dep. of Agron., 2004 Throckmorton Hall, Kansas State Univ., Manhattan, KS 66506


Grazing by ungulates is common in grasslands and may influence evapotranspiration (ET). The Bowen ratio energy balance method (BREB) was used to measure ET from grazed (GR) and ungrazed (UGR) tallgrass prairie sites in northeastern Kansas, USA. Yearling steers were stocked on the GR site from day of year (DOY) 128 to 202 in 1999, and ET data were collected from DOY 141 to 295. Grazing reduced ET by 28% between DOY 179 and 207; mean ET values were 3.6 (GR) and 5.0 mm d−1 (UGR). During that period, leaf area index (LAI) was an average of 78% lower on the GR site, and below-normal precipitation kept soil dry near the surface; hence, transpiration and evaporation of water from soil decreased. Lower ET during that period, conserved soil water in the 0- to 0.30-m profile on the GR site. Before that (e.g., DOY 152–179), ET was similar between treatments, despite an average 70% lower LAI on the GR site compared with the UGR site. Above-normal precipitation during that period probably maintained high evaporation of water from soil, thereby compensating for reductions in transpiration (via LAI removal) on the GR site. Cumulative ET values during the 155-d study were estimated at 526 and 494 mm on the UGR and GR sites, respectively. Thus, grazing reduced seasonal ET by 6.1%. Late in the study, ET was higher on the GR site, despite a lower LAI compared with the UGR site. Younger leaves in regrowth after grazing resulted in delayed senescence, causing higher ET on the GR site.

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Copyright © 2001. American Society of AgronomyPublished in Agron. J.93:338–348.