The implementation of afforestation programs in arid environments in northern China had modified the natural vegetation patterns. This increases the evaporation flux; however, the influence of these new covers on the soil water conditions is poorly understood. This work aims to describe the effect of Willow bushes (Salix psammophila
C. Wang and Chang Y. Yang) and Willow trees (Salix matsudana
Koidz.) on the soil water conditions after the summer. Two experimental plots located in the Hailiutu catchment (Shaanxi province, northwest China), and covered with plants of each species, were monitored during Autumn in 2010. The monitoring included the soil moisture, fine root distribution and transpiration fluxes that provided information about water availability, access and use by the plants. Meanwhile, the monitoring of stable water isotopes collected from precipitation, soil water, groundwater and xylem water linked the water paths. The presence of Willow trees and Willow bushes reduce the effect of soil evaporation after summer, increasing the soil moisture respect to bare soil conditions. Also, the presence of soil water with stable water isotope signatures close to groundwater reflect the hydraulic lift process. This is an indication of soil water redistribution carried out by both plant species.
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