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Instrumenting Wildlife Water Developments to Collect Hydrometeorological Data in Remote Western U.S. Catchments

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  • 1 * Graduate Program of Hydrologic Sciences, University of Nevada at Reno, Reno, Nevada
  • | 2 Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science, and Graduate Program of Hydrologic Sciences, University of Nevada at Reno, Reno, Nevada
  • | 3 Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Reno, Nevada
  • | 4 Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science, University of Nevada at Reno, Reno, Nevada
  • | 5 ** PRISM Climate Group, Northwest Alliance for Computational Science and Engineering, School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
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Abstract

In the arid western United States, wildlife water developments, or “guzzlers,” are important water sources for wildlife, and consist of impermeable roof structures designed to intercept precipitation and small tanks for storing water. Guzzlers are typically installed in remote mid- to high-elevation basins, where precipitation data are often scarce. In this study, small-game guzzlers were examined for feasibility as potential sites for improving estimates of climatic parameters in remote Nevada catchments. Instruments measuring liquid precipitation and water level were installed at two guzzler field sites. Although one field site was vandalized during the study, field results indicated that water levels in the tank measured by Hobo pressure transducers corresponded well with precipitation events measured by the Texas Electronics tipping-bucket rain gauge, and that measured data were similar to Parameter–Elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) estimates. Minimum temperatures from the guzzler sites were similar to PRISM; however, maximum temperatures were a few degrees higher, possibly because temperature sensors were unshielded. With over 1600 guzzlers in Nevada and thousands more throughout the western United States, this study initiates exploration of the feasibility of augmenting individual guzzler sites to enhance climatic monitoring at a relatively low cost to improve the quality and density of climate observations, benefitting hydrologists, climatologists, and wildlife managers.

Current affiliation: Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, North Woodstock, New Hampshire.

Corresponding author address: Laurel Saito, Associate Professor, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science, and Director, Graduate Program of Hydrologic Sciences, University of Nevada at Reno, Mail Stop 186, Reno, NV 89557. E-mail: lsaito@cabnr.unr.edu

Abstract

In the arid western United States, wildlife water developments, or “guzzlers,” are important water sources for wildlife, and consist of impermeable roof structures designed to intercept precipitation and small tanks for storing water. Guzzlers are typically installed in remote mid- to high-elevation basins, where precipitation data are often scarce. In this study, small-game guzzlers were examined for feasibility as potential sites for improving estimates of climatic parameters in remote Nevada catchments. Instruments measuring liquid precipitation and water level were installed at two guzzler field sites. Although one field site was vandalized during the study, field results indicated that water levels in the tank measured by Hobo pressure transducers corresponded well with precipitation events measured by the Texas Electronics tipping-bucket rain gauge, and that measured data were similar to Parameter–Elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) estimates. Minimum temperatures from the guzzler sites were similar to PRISM; however, maximum temperatures were a few degrees higher, possibly because temperature sensors were unshielded. With over 1600 guzzlers in Nevada and thousands more throughout the western United States, this study initiates exploration of the feasibility of augmenting individual guzzler sites to enhance climatic monitoring at a relatively low cost to improve the quality and density of climate observations, benefitting hydrologists, climatologists, and wildlife managers.

Current affiliation: Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, North Woodstock, New Hampshire.

Corresponding author address: Laurel Saito, Associate Professor, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science, and Director, Graduate Program of Hydrologic Sciences, University of Nevada at Reno, Mail Stop 186, Reno, NV 89557. E-mail: lsaito@cabnr.unr.edu
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