Desert shrub stemflow and its significance in soil moisture replenishment

Xinping Wang, Z. -N. Wang, Ronny Berndtsson, Y. -F. Zhang, Y. -X. Pan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Stemflow of xerophytic shrubs represents a significant component of water replenishment to the soil-root system influencing water utilization of plant roots at the stand scale, especially in water scarce desert ecosystems. In this study, stemflow of Caragana korshinskii was quantified by an aluminum foil collar collection method on re-vegetated sand dunes of the Shapotou restored desert ecosystem in northwestern China. Time domain reflectometry probes were inserted horizontally at 20 different soil profile depths under the C. korshinskii shrub to monitor soil moisture variation at hourly intervals. Results indicated that 2.2 mm precipitation was necessary for the generation of stemflow for C. korshinskii. Stemflow averaged 8% of the gross precipitation and the average funnelling ratio was as high as 90. The soil moisture in the uppermost soil profile was strongly correlated with individual rainfall and the stemflow strengthened this relationship. Therefore, it is favourable for the infiltrated water redistribution in the deeper soil profile of the root zone. Consequently, stemflow contributes significantly to a positive soil moisture balance in the root zone and the replenishment of soil moisture at deeper soil layers. This plays an important role in plant survival and the general ecology of arid desert environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-567
JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Water Engineering

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