Cambios en la partición de flujos de agua en el Chaco Árido al reemplazar bosques por pasturas

Cambios en la partición de flujos de agua en el Chaco Árido al reemplazar bosques por pasturas

Patricio N. Magliano, Roberto J. Fernández, Raúl Giménez, Victoria A. Marchesini, Ricardo A. Páez, Esteban G. Jobbágy

Resumen


La vegetación cumple un papel muy importante regulando los flujos de agua de los ecosistemas, en especial en regiones áridas y semiáridas donde la mayor parte de la precipitación se evapotranspira. En este trabajo se exploró cómo el reemplazo de los bosques secos nativos por pasturas, orientado a aumentar la productividad ganadera, afecta la partición de flujos de agua en las llanuras del Chaco Árido. Se caracterizó la distribución del tamaño y la intensidad de eventos de precipitación, y se midieron los flujos de intercepción directa, escurrimiento superficial, drenaje profundo y evaporación potencial en parcelas pareadas de bosques y pasturas en San Luis, Argentina. Las pasturas presentaron menor intercepción directa (0.35±0.13 vs. 1.51±0.50 mm/evento de precipitación), mayor escurrimiento superficial (~28 vs. 0% de escurrimiento en eventos grandes e intensos) y mayor evaporación potencial a nivel del suelo (7.0±0.9 vs. 4.4±0.9 mm/día en el verano). El drenaje profundo resultó nulo en ambas coberturas, aunque bajo las pasturas se encontró un desplazamiento vertical de las sales del perfil hasta los 2 m de profundidad. Luego de cada evento de precipitación, las pasturas presentaron una distribución más homogénea de la humedad edáfica como producto de una menor redistribución de agua por el canopeo y la superficie del terreno. Estos resultados sugieren que el establecimiento de pasturas en sitios originalmente cubiertos por bosques reduciría la fracción de la precipitación potencialmente transpirable y aumentaría el riesgo potencial de erosión hídrica. La importancia de los flujos de redistribución sobre el balance hídrico y el funcionamiento ecohidrológico del sistema resalta la necesidad de caracterizar la dinámica del agua a escala de parche en paisajes llanos.


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