An intermountain playa wetland preserve in Colorado's San Luis Valley was studied to assess how its current hydrologic function compares to its natural hydrologic regime. Current hydrologic conditions were quantified, and on-site effects of off-site water use were assessed. A water-budget model was developed to simulate an unaltered (i.e., natural) hydrologic regime, and simulated natural conditions were compared to observed conditions. From 1998–2002, observed stream inflows accounted for ≥ 80% of total annual water inputs. No ground water discharged to the wetland. Evapotranspiration (ET) accounted for ≥ 69% of total annual water loss. Simulated natural conditions differed substantially from current altered conditions with respect to depth, variability, and frequency of flooding. During 1998–2002, observed monthly mean surface-water depth was 65% lower than under simulated natural conditions. Observed monthly variability in water depth range from 129% greater (May) to 100% less (September and October) than simulated. As observed, the wetland dried completely (i.e., was ephemeral) in all years; as simulated, the wetland was ephemeral in two of five years. For the period 1915–2002, the simulated wetland was inundated continuously for as long as 16 years and nine months. The large differences in observed and simulated surface-water dynamics resulted from differences between altered and simulated unaltered stream inflows. The maximum and minimum annual total stream inflows observed from 1998–2005 were 3.1 × 106 m3 and 0 m3, respectively, versus 15.5 × 106 m3 and 3.2 × 106 m3 under simulated natural conditions from 1915–2002. The maximum simulated inflow was 484% greater than observed. These data indicate that the current hydrologic regime of this intermountain playa differs significantly from its natural hydrologic regime, which has important implications for planning and assessing conservation success.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 28 • No. 2