Effects of rainfall intensity and slope on interception and precipitation partitioning by forest litter layer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Rainfall interception and other hydrologic processes affected by the forest litter layer are usually related to litter characteristics and rainfall conditions, with limited studies that consider the influence of slope. To simulate the hydrological functions of the litter layer at different slope gradients, artificial rainfall experiments were conducted at four rainfall intensities (from 30 to 120 mm hr−1) in horizontal and inclined trays (with the slope of 0° 10° 20° and 30°) with litter of Pinus tabuliformis or Quercus variabilis. The results indicated that (1) the dynamic process of litter interception had 3 phases: a rapid intercepted phase within the first 5 min, a moderate intercepted phase and a post-rainfall drainage phase; (2) the maximum interception storage (Cmax) and the minimum interception storage (Cmin) of Q. variabilis were larger than those of P. tabuliformis; (3) Cmax and Cmin were correlated with slope for both types of litter, whereas only Cmax was correlated with rainfall intensity; and (4) lateral flow amount significantly increased with both slope gradient and rainfall intensity only for Quercus variabilis, whereas drainage volume showed significant correlation with rainfall intensity. Moreover, the ratio of lateral runoff and drainage was affected by slope gradient whereas percentage of litter interception had a good relationship with rainfall intensity, rather than slope, with litter interception and drainage contributing the smallest and the largest proportions, respectively. Overall, the results demonstrate the effect of rainfall and slope factors on hydrological processes in the forest litter layer.


  • Jie Du
  • Jianzhi Niu
  • Zhaoliang Gao
  • Xiongwen Chen
  • Linus Zhang
  • Xiang Li
  • Natalie S. van Doorn
  • Ziteng Luo
  • Zhijun Zhu
External organisations
  • Beijing Forestry University
  • Northwest A&F University
  • USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station
  • University of Alabama
  • State Forestry and Grassland Administration of China
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
  • Physical Geography


  • Forest litter, Interception, Precipitation partitioning, Rainfall intensity, Slope gradients
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)711-718
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jan 1
Publication categoryResearch