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Water 2017, 9(11), 817; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9110817

Substrate Composition and Depth Affect Soil Moisture Behavior and Plant-Soil Relationship on Mediterranean Extensive Green Roofs

1
Société des Carrières de La Ménudelle, 13. BP 80011, 13551 Saint-Martin-de-Crau, France
2
Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d’Ecologie (IMBE), Université d’Avignon et des Pays de Vaucluse, UMR CNRS IRD Aix Marseille Université, IUT site Agroparc, BP 61207, 84911 Avignon CEDEX 09, France
3
Irstea Grenoble, UR Écosystèmes Montagnards, University Grenoble Alpes, Irstea, UR EMGR, 2 rue de la Papeterie, BP 76, 38402 Saint-Martin-d’Hères, France
4
Institut de Recherche Pour la Conservation des Zones Humides Méditerranéennes, Tour du Valat, Le Sambuc, 13200 Arles, France
5
Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Conservation des Espèces, Restauration et suivi des Population-UMR 7204 MNHN-CNRS-UPMC, 55 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 August 2017 / Revised: 16 October 2017 / Accepted: 19 October 2017 / Published: 25 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hydrological Performance of Green Roofs)
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Abstract

The Mediterranean basin is extremely vulnerable to climate change, and one of the areas most impacted by human water demand. Yet the green roofs increasingly created both for aesthetic reasons and to limit pollution and urban runoff are themselves very water-demanding. Successful green roof installation depends on the establishment of the vegetation, and the substrate is the key element: it conserves water, and provides the nutrients and physical support indispensable for plant growth. Since typical Mediterranean plant communities require no maintenance, this study seeks to develop techniques for creating maintenance- and watering-free horizontal green roofs for public or private buildings in a Mediterranean context. The innovative aspect of this study lies in creating two soil mixes, fine elements (clay and silt) and coarse elements (pebbles of all sizes), in two different thicknesses, to assess vegetation development. Monitoring of substrate moisture was carried out and coupled with local rainfall measurements during summer and autumn. As expected, substrate moisture is mainly influenced by substrate depth (the deeper, the moister) and composition (the finer the particles (clays and silts), the higher the moisture content). Vegetation cover impacts moisture to a lesser extent but is itself affected by the composition and depth of the substrates. These results are subsequently discussed with relation to the issue of sustainable green roofs in Mediterranean climates. Considering applications of our results, for an optimal colonization of a Mediterranean vegetation, a substrate thickness of 15 cm composed mainly of fine elements (75% clay-silt and 25% pebble-sand) would be recommended in green roofs. View Full-Text
Keywords: extensive green roofs; soil moisture; substrate depth; substrate composition; Mediterranean context extensive green roofs; soil moisture; substrate depth; substrate composition; Mediterranean context
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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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Chenot, J.; Gaget, E.; Moinardeau, C.; Jaunatre, R.; Buisson, E.; Dutoit, T. Substrate Composition and Depth Affect Soil Moisture Behavior and Plant-Soil Relationship on Mediterranean Extensive Green Roofs. Water 2017, 9, 817.

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