3 years ago

Effects of rainfall and vegetation to soil water input and output processes in the Mu Us Sandy Land, northwest China

Soil water plays a critical role in vegetation growth and restoration in semiarid regions, and has highly spatiotemporal variability. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of the soil water input and output processes is critical to the study of the hydrological cycle. To further unveil and quantify soil water dynamics, we embarked on a research program to quantify hydrological processes under three sites (i.e., shifting dune, shrub-dominated community, and herb-dominated community) with continuously monitored soil water content at 10-min intervals in the Mu Us Sandy Land between April and October 2012. The results indicated that soil water input and output processes were strongly affected by rainfall infiltration and surface characteristics. Rainfall affects the fluctuation of soil water content in deeper layers (60–80cm) by altering rainfall amount and soil texture; vegetation affects the soil water input process by altering the canopy rainfall interception, hydraulic lift, and soil organic matter content and so on. The effects of rainfall on the soil water output process mainly contributed to direct leakage and evaporation. Plant root distribution was a vital factor affecting the soil water output process. In addition, a state of dynamic equilibrium existed between the absorption of soil water and non-rainfall replenishment of soil water content during the output process over a long period of time. With limited soil water input and relatively larger soil water uptake by deeper roots, the soil water varied up to ~80% under the herb-dominated community. Our results imply that the increment of the deeper layer (60–80cm) would enhance shrub expansion in the Mu Us Sandy Land of China.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0341816217303521

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