Climate models predict that water limited regions around the world will become drier and warmer in the near future, including southwestern North America. We developed a large-scale experimental system that allows testing of the ecosystem impacts of precipitation changes. Four treatments were applied to 1600 m2 plots (40 m — 40 m), each with three replicates in a piñon pine (Pinus edulis) and juniper (Juniper monosperma) ecosystem. These species have extensive root systems, requiring large-scale manipulation to effectively alter soil water availability.  Treatments consisted of: 1) irrigation plots that receive supplemental water additions, 2) drought plots that receive 55% of ambient rainfall, 3) cover-control plots that receive ambient precipitation, but allow determination of treatment infrastructure artifacts, and 4) ambient control plots. Our drought structures effectively reduced soil water potential and volumetric water content compared to the ambient, cover-control, and water addition plots. Drought and cover control plots experienced an average increase in maximum soil and air temperature at ground level of 1-4° C during the growing season compared to ambient plots, and concurrent short-term diurnal increases in maximum air temperature were also observed directly above and below plastic structures. Our drought and irrigation treatments significantly influenced tree predawn water potential, sap-flow, and net photosynthesis, with drought treatment trees exhibiting significant decreases in physiological function compared to ambient and irrigated trees. Supplemental irrigation resulted in a significant increase in both plant water potential and xylem sap-flow compared to trees in the other treatments. This experimental design effectively allows manipulation of plant water stress at the ecosystem scale, permits a wide range of drought conditions, and provides prolonged drought conditions comparable to historical droughts in the past – drought events for which wide-spread mortality in both these species was observed. Soil temperature impacts both the abiotic and biotic processes at our site. The rate of evaporation, soil water content, VPD, and many other environmental factors are directly or indirectly affected by the temperature of the system. By monitoring the soil temperature at our site, we were able to determine its influence on the target trees and their associated physiological functions. Differences in soil temperature between plots can be impacted by the drought and cover-control structures used in our rainfall-manipulation treatments. Therefore, measuring soil temperatures in all three cover types and all four treatment regimes also allowed us to tease-out the temperature differences that were an artifact of the treatment structures as opposed to the actual treatments.


Other Identifier


Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity (KNB) Identifier


Document Type



This dataset was originally published on the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network Data Portal,, and potentially via other repositories or portals as described. The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) of the source data package is doi:10.6073/pasta/c7b878960a8cecac3c9ecd0552c53fa1, and may be accessed at Metadata and files included in this record mirror as closely as possible the source data and documentation, with the provenance metadata and quality report generated by the LTER portal reproduced here as '*-provenance.xml' and *-report.html' files, respectively.


Data Policies: This dataset is released to the public and may be freely downloaded. Please keep the designated Contact person informed of any plans to use the dataset. Consultation or collaboration with the original investigators is strongly encouraged. Publications and data products that make use of the dataset must include proper acknowledgement of the Sevilleta LTER. Datasets must be cited as in the example provided. A copy of any publications using these data must be supplied to the Sevilleta LTER Information Manager. By downloading any data you implicitly acknowledge the LTER Data Policy (


Temporal coverage

2006-01-01 - 2012-12-31

Spatial coverage

Site situated on the eastern flank of Los Pinos Mountains, approx. 3 miles south of NM state route 60, directly adjacent to the eastern boundary of the Sevilleta USFWS National Refuge.



Permanent URL

knb-lter-sev.274.9-metadata.html (762 kB)
Show full metadata

knb-lter-sev.274.9-provenance.xml (5 kB)
Show provenance metadata

knb-lter-sev.274.9-report.html (124 kB)
Show original LTER Network Data Portal ingest report

sev274_pjsoiltemp06_20140122.txt (137292 kB)
Data in TXT format

sev274_pjsoiltemp07_20140124.txt (722130 kB)
Data in TXT format

sev274_pjsoiltemp09_20140127.txt (901933 kB)
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sev274_pjsoiltemp10_20140127.txt (896882 kB)
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sev274_pjsoiltemp11_20140127.txt (896626 kB)
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sev274_pjsoiltemp12_20150702.txt (900664 kB)
Data in TXT format

sev274_pjsoiltemp13_20150702.txt (827706 kB)
Data in TXT format