Rangelands have undergone—and continue to undergo—rapid change in response to changing land use and climate. A research priority in the emerging science of ecohydrology is an improved understanding of the implications of vegetation change for the water cycle. This paper describes some of the interactions between vegetation and water on rangelands and poses 3 questions that represent high-priority, emerging issues: 1) How do changes in woody plants affect water yield? 2) What are the ecohydrological consequences of invasion by exotic plants? 3) What ecohydrological feedbacks play a role in rangeland degradation processes? To effectively address these questions, we must expand our knowledge of hydrological connectivity and how it changes with scale, accurately identify “hydrologically sensitive” areas on the landscape, carry out detailed studies to learn where plants are accessing water, and investigate feedback loops between vegetation and the water cycle.
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Vol. 59 • No. 2