We used long-term datasets (1984–1992) to contrast precipitation-use efficiency estimates between various disturbance kinds at a functional group and/or a species scale. Effects of varying amounts of precipitation and plant cover on PUE were also examined. Field studies were conducted at northeastern, arid Patagonia, Argentina (40°39′49″S, 62°53′6.4″W). Within each management kind, biomass was sampled in 0.5 × 0.5m permanent plots (n = 30) over 9 years after defoliation at 5 cm stubble at the end of each growing season, and it was separated into species. Biomass sampling allowed determination of annual net primary production. Thereafter, species were grouped into each of three functional groups. Precipitation-use efficiency (PUE) was calculated as the total dry matter produced per unit surface area on any given year divided by the total rainfall in that year. Plant cover on 20 out of those 30 plots was determined to study the relationship between plant cover and PUE. The contribution of cool-season perennial grasses to total PUE was higher (P <0.05) than that found for the other two functional groups in all management kinds and years. PUE was similar (P> 0.05) in wet than dry years, and it was greater (P <0.05) or similar (P> 0.05), but not lower, on the more than less competitive perennial grass species in all management kinds. The relationship between plant cover and PUE was positive, linear (P <0.0000) and management-kind dependent.
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