Water conservation forests significantly contribute to the stability of mountain agricultural ecosystems in Hani Terrace. In this study, we analyzed the relationship between the stable isotopic composition of soil water and precipitation to determine the mechanisms of soil water movement in the small watershed of Quanfuzhuang. We observed significant seasonal variations in soil water sources: antecedent precipitation was the dominant supply during the dry season, and current precipitation dominated during the rainy season. The recharge ratio of precipitation to soil water in the grassland was significantly higher than that in the arbor land and shrubland. The influence of water infiltration, old and new soil water mixing, and soil evaporation on the soil water stable isotopes gradually decreased from the surface (0–20 cm) to the deep (60–80 cm) soil. We observed significant seasonal variability in average soil water δ18
O in the upper 0–60 cm and lower variability at 60–100 cm. The average soil water δ18
O was generally higher in the dry season than in the rainy season. The mixing of old and new water is a continuous and cumulative process that is impacted by soil structure, soil texture, and precipitation events. We therefore identified a significant time delay in soil water supply with increasing soil depth. Moreover, the piston flow of soil water co-occurred with preferential flow, and the latter was the dominant supply during the rainy season.
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