Date of Award:

1986

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Ecology

Advisor/Chair:

Douglas A. Johnson

Abstract

A short duration grazing system was utilized to determine the effects of intensive periodic defoliation during spring on soil moisture depletion patterns and plant water status in a crested wheatgrass (Agropvron cristatum and A. desertorum) pasture in central Utah. Exclosures were constructed to compare grazed and ungrazed responses. Soil moisture was monitored to a depth of 193 cm at one to two week intervals from mid-April to late-September using a neutron moisture gauge. Predawn and midday leaf water potentials were estimated using a pressure chamber technique. The two paddocks included in the study were grazed three times between mid-April and mid-June in 1985. A difference in time of grazing between the two paddocks was also examined for its effect on soil moisture depletion patterns and plant water status. Soil moisture was depleted at a higher rate within ungrazed plots than grazed plots during 13 April to 1 July in both paddocks. Soil moisture was depleted at a higher rate after 1 July in grazed compared to ungrazed plots in the early-grazed paddock; however, no difference in soil moisture depletion rate was noted after 1 July within the late-grazed paddock. Total cumulative depletion was greater within ungrazed plots than grazed plots in the early-grazed paddock from 6 June until 13 August, and from 23 May until 30 July in the late-grazed paddock. During the pre-July period, soil moisture was depleted more rapidly in the upper- and mid-portions of the soil profile in ungrazed plots. By 25 September there was no difference in total soil water depletion ' through 53 cm between grazed and ungrazed treatments, but ungrazed plots extracted relatively more water in the mid- and lower-portions of the soil profile. Grazing had no effect on predawn leaf water potentials prior to 1 July, but predawn leaf water potentials were lower for ungrazed plants than for grazed plants after 1 July. Midday leaf water potentials were lower for grazed plants than for ungrazed plants before 1 July, but did not differ between grazed and ungrazed plants after 1 July. Time of grazing had no effect on either predawn or midday leaf water potentials.

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