McHorney Richard

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  • Preprint
    Conversion to soy on the Amazonian agricultural frontier increases streamflow without affecting stormflow dynamics
    ( 2011-01) Hayhoe, Shelby J. ; Neill, Christopher ; Porder, Stephen ; McHorney, Richard ; LeFebvre, Paul ; Coe, Michael T. ; Elsenbeer, Helmut ; Krusche, Alex V.
    Large-scale soy agriculture in the southern Brazilian Amazon now rivals deforestation for pasture as the region’s predominant form of land use change. Such landscape level change can have substantial consequences for local and regional hydrology, which remain relatively unstudied. We examined how the conversion to soy agriculture influences water balances and stormflows using stream discharge (water yields) and the timing of discharge (stream hydrographs) in small (2.5 to 13.5 km2) forested and soy headwater watersheds in the Upper Xingu Watershed in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil. We monitored water yield for one year in three forested and four soy watersheds. Mean daily water yields were approximately four times higher in soy than forested watersheds, and soy watersheds showed greater seasonal variability in discharge. The contribution of stormflows to annual streamflow in all streams was low (< 13% of annual streamflow), and the contribution of stormflow to streamflow did not differ between land uses. If the increases in water yield observed in this study are typical, landscape-scale conversion to soy substantially alters water-balance, potentially altering the regional hydrology over large areas of the southern Amazon.
  • Preprint
    Distribution, species composition and management implications of seed banks in southern New England coastal plain ponds
    ( 2008-12) Neill, Christopher ; Bezerra, Maira Ometto ; McHorney, Richard ; O’Dea, Claire B.
    Buried seeds that germinate during periods of low water or water level drawdown can play important roles in shaping plant community composition, community dynamics and species richness in ecosystems with fluctuating water levels. Northeastern US coastal plain ponds have fluctuating water levels and contain a characteristic shoreline flora that contains many rare plants. The objectives of this study were to: (1) test whether geographically distant ponds in Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard had distinct seed banks, (2) determine if hydrologic status as permanent and ephemeral ponds led to differences in seed banks, and (3) examine seed diversity and seed abundance across gradients of shoreline elevations and sediment characteristics. Viable seeds of 45 plant species were identified from 9 ponds. Native species dominated pond-shore seed banks and made up 89 to 100% of all species. There was high overlap in seed bank composition across hydrological classes and geographic regions. One hydrological class captured 73-76% of total species and one geographical region captured 69-78% of the total species recovered from the entire suite of seed bank samples. Seeds were relatively evenly distributed along the shorelines of ephemeral ponds but seed diversity and abundance were lower at low elevations in permanent ponds. Results suggest that strategies to protect pond shorelines to capture maximum diversity of coastal plain pond plants contained in pond sediment seed banks should be implemented across pond hydrologic classes and across a wide geographic area. Shoreline seed distributions indicate that ground-water withdrawals or climate changes that lower pond water levels in permanent ponds will reduce the diversity and abundance of plants recovered from seed banks by shifting water levels to a shoreline zone of high sediment organic matter where seed densities are lower. This effect will be much less in ephemeral ponds where seed diversity and abundance on pond bottoms was high.