Articles | Volume 4, issue 2
Research article
22 Jun 2016
Research article |  | 22 Jun 2016

The influence of Holocene vegetation changes on topography and erosion rates: a case study at Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed, Arizona

Jon D. Pelletier, Mary H. Nichols, and Mark A. Nearing

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Cited articles

Abrahams, A. D. and Ponczynski, J. J.: Drainage density in relation to precipitation intensity in the USA, J. Hydrol., 75, 383–388,, 1984.
Abrahams, A. D., Parsons, A. J., and Wainwright, J.: Effects of vegetation change on interrill erosion, Walnut Gulch, southern Arizona, Geomorphology, 13, 37–48,, 1995.
Anderson, R. S.: A 35 000 Year Vegetation and Climate History from Potato Lake, Mogollon Rim, Arizona, Quaternary Res., 40, 351–359,, 1993.
Antinao, J.-L. and McDonald, E.: A reduced relevance of vegetation change for alluvial aggradation in arid zones, Geology, 41, 11–14,, 2013a.
Antinao, J.-L. and McDonald, E.: An enhanced role for the Tropical Pacific on the humid Pleistocene-Holocene transition in southwestern North America, Quat. Sci. Rev., 78, 319–341,, 2013b.
Short summary
This paper documents that a shift from grassland to shrubland within the past few thousand years has caused erosion rates to increase more than 10-fold and drainage density to increase approximately 3-fold in areas of otherwise similar climate and geology at a study site in Arizona. We provide a mathematical model that predicts the observed drainage density under both grassland and shrubland conditions. In the model application we are able to tightly constrain every parameter.