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Forests 2018, 9(7), 426; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9070426

Water Balance of Mediterranean Quercus ilex L. and Pinus halepensis Mill. Forests in Semiarid Climates: A Review in A Climate Change Context

1
IMEM Ramón Margalef, Department of Ecology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Alicante, 03080 Alicante, Spain
2
Center for Environmental Studies in the Mediterranean (CEAM Foundation), Joint Research Unit University of Alicante-CEAM, University of Alicante, 03080 Alicante, Spain
3
Institute of Environmental and Ecological Sciences (ICAE), University of the Andes, Mérida 5101, Venezuela
4
Aula Dei Experimental Station (EEAD-CSIC), Avda. Montañana 1005, 50059 Zaragoza, Spain
5
Department of Hydraulic Engineering and Environment, Polytechnic University of Valencia, 46022 Valencia, Spain
6
Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Lay University Eloy Alfaro of Manabí, Ave. Circunvalación, Vía San Mateo, Manta 130802, Ecuador
7
Department of Hydraulic Engineering and Environment, Research Group in Forest Science and Technology (Re-ForeST), Polytechnic University of Valencia, 46022 Valencia, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 June 2018 / Revised: 11 July 2018 / Accepted: 12 July 2018 / Published: 16 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Gas Exchanges in Forests)
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Abstract

Forests provide many environmental services, especially those related to the water cycle. In semiarid areas where water is a limiting factor for ecosystem functioning, forested areas can have a strong impact on ground water recharge. In these areas, proper knowledge of forests’ water balance is necessary to promote management practices that may ensure ecosystem properties and environmental services like water or carbon fixation. In this article, we review several ecohydrology topics within the framework of Mediterranean water-limited environments in two representative ecosystems: Kermes oak (Quercus ilex L.) and Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis Mill.) forests. Both are the commonest species in countries that surround the Western Mediterranean Basin. We analysed the Blue and Green water components, i.e., green water is the water demand of forests, represented by evapotranspiration and interception; while blue water is the part of the balance involving runoff and deep percolation, which can be regarded as water directly usable by society. In general, different studies conducted in Mediterranean areas have pointed out that the water balances of Q. ilex and P. halepensis forests have low values for the Blue to Green water (B/G) ratios. Adaptive forest management like forest thinning can compensate for these ratios. Thinning has demonstrated to reduce losses by interception, but at same time, it can also increase individual tree transpiration and evaporation rates. However, these practices lead to higher B/G ratios when considering the whole stand. In future global change scenarios, in which drought conditions are expected to intensify, management practices can improve the water balance in these ecosystems by minimizing the risk of plant mortality and species replacement due to intense competence by water resources. View Full-Text
Keywords: drought; blue water; green water; groundwater recharge; silviculture; global change projections drought; blue water; green water; groundwater recharge; silviculture; global change projections
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Vicente, E.; Vilagrosa, A.; Ruiz-Yanetti, S.; Manrique-Alba, À.; González-Sanchís, M.; Moutahir, H.; Chirino, E.; del Campo, A.; Bellot, J. Water Balance of Mediterranean Quercus ilex L. and Pinus halepensis Mill. Forests in Semiarid Climates: A Review in A Climate Change Context. Forests 2018, 9, 426.

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