Root-induced channels are the primary controlling factors for rapid movement of water and solute in forest soils. To explore the effects of root distribution on preferential flow during rainfall events, deciduous (Quercus variabilis
BI.) and coniferous forest (Platycladus orientalis
(L.) Franco) sites were selected to conduct dual-tracer experiments (Brilliant Blue FCF and Bromide [Br−
]). Each plot (1.30 × 1.30 m) was divided into two subplots (0.65 × 1.30 m), and two rainfall simulations (40 mm, large rainfall and 70 mm, extreme rainfall) were conducted in these. Vertical soil profiles (1.00 m × 0.40 m) were excavated, and preferential flow path features were quantified based on digital image analysis. Root (fine and coarse) abundance and Br−
concentration were investigated for each soil profile. In deciduous forest, accumulated roots in the upper soil layer induce larger lateral preferential flow as compared to the coniferous forest soil during large rainfall events. Compared with deciduous forest, coniferous forest soil, with higher (horizontal and vertical) spatial variability of preferential flow paths, promotes higher percolation and solute leaching to deeper soil layers during extreme rainfall events. Fine roots, accounting for a larger proportion of total roots (compared to coarse roots), facilitate preferential flow in the 0–40 cm forest soil layer. Overall, our results indicate that the root distribution pattern of different tree species can exert diverse effects on preferential flow in forest soils.
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