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Open AccessArticle

What Do Plants Leave after Summer on the Ground?—The Effect of Afforested Plants in Arid Environments

Department of Water Management, Water Resources Section, Delft University of Technology, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands
Escuela de Ingeniería Forestal, Tecnológico de Costa Rica, P.O. Box 159-7050, Cartago 30101, Costa Rica
UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme, Via dei Ceraioli, 45, 06134 Perugia, PG, Italy
Water Science and Engineering Department, IHE Delft, 2611 AX Delft, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(12), 2559;
Received: 15 October 2019 / Revised: 29 November 2019 / Accepted: 30 November 2019 / Published: 4 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Use of Water Stable Isotopes in Hydrological Process)
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: stable water isotopes; hydrogen; oxygen; soil water; fine root system stable water isotopes; hydrogen; oxygen; soil water; fine root system
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Jiménez-Rodríguez, C.D.; Coenders-Gerrits, M.; Uhlenbrook, S.; Wenninger, J. What Do Plants Leave after Summer on the Ground?—The Effect of Afforested Plants in Arid Environments. Water 2019, 11, 2559.

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