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Volume 59, Issue 6 p. 1239-1247

Primary Productivity and Water Use in Native Forest, Grassland, and Desert Ecosystems

First published: 01 October 1978
Citations: 202


The relationship between abovegound net primary production (ANPP) and water use varies significantly among ecosystem types. For both hot deserts and shortgrass prairie—cold deserts which are water limited, ANPP is linearly related to annual water use above minimum amount of water, estimated at 38 and 170 mm, respectively, needed annually to sustain each system. Once the minimum water too sustain ANPP is reached, ANPP increases an estimated 0.38 g and 1.09 g per 1000 g of additional water in the hot desert and the shortgrass prairie—cold desert. In forest systems not water stressed, ANPP was not related to water use. For grasslands representing a gradient from water stressed toward not water stressed, ANPP correspondingly declined per unit of water used. Classically evaluating water—use efficiency as annual ANPP divided by annual evapotranspiration, forests are the most efficient, 0.9 to 1.8 g ANPP/1000 g water, followed by shortgrass prairie, 0.2 to 0.7, then hot deserts, 0.1 to 0.3.