Special Issue "Advances in Ecohydrology for Water Resources Optimization in Arid and Semi-arid Areas"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Ecohydrology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 January 2022) | Viewed by 9431

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Ryan Stewart
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA
Interests: soil hydrology; engineering; agriculture; urban systems
Dr. Marcella Biddoccu
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Agricultural and Earthmoving Machines, Italian National Research Council (CNR-IMAMOTER), Italy
Interests: soil degradation; soil and water conservation
Dr. Mehdi Rahmati
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Soil Science and Engineering, , University of Maragheh, Iran
Interests: soil physics and conservation; sustainable management; Vadose zone hydrology
Dr. Vincenzo Alagna
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences (DISTAL) Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna, Italy
Interests: soil science; water resources management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Conserving water resources is current challenge that will become increasingly urgent in future years due to climate change. The arid and semi-arid areas of the globe are expected to be particularly affected by changing water availability. Consequently, advances in ecohydrology sciences (i.e., the interplay between ecological and hydrological processes) are necessary to enhance the understanding of the critical zone hydrology, to optimize water resources usage in arid and semi-arid areas, and mitigate climate change.

This Special Issue aims to investigate the relationships between hydrological and ecological processes and how these interactions can contribute to the optimization of the water resources in arid and semi-arid areas. Similarly, evaluating water management options and testing new experimental procedures in these areas are essential to produce robust water savings.

Hydrology and water resources should be prevalent aspects of submitted investigations. Submissions will address one or more of the following issues, with closely related topics also welcome:

  • Ecohydrology processes and their relationships with drought, aridity, and water scarcity
  • Impact of hydrology changes on ecosystems degradation
  • Effects of land or soil use changes on components of the hydrological cycle (runoff, recharge, etc.)
  • Modelling applications for predicting climate or soil land use change effects on water availability
  • Soil use and management of arid and semi-arid environments
  • Soil physical and hydraulic properties changes of arid and semi-arid environments
  • Soil properties governing hydrological processes
  • Innovative methods and technologies for monitoring ecological, hydrological, and soil processes
  • Relationships between microflora and microfauna and physical and hydraulic indicators of the soil
  • Impact of biological crusts on soil properties
  • Role of hydraulic redistribution in water availability and ecosystem function
  • Effects of treated wastewater usage on soil hydraulic properties

Theoretical, methodological, and case studies, as well as review papers, are welcome.

Dr. Mirko Castellini
Dr. Simone Di Prima
Dr. Ryan Stewart
Dr. Marcella Biddoccu
Dr. Mehdi Rahmati
Dr. Vincenzo Alagna
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Ecohydrology
  • Critical zone hydrology
  • Soil hydrology
  • Soil degradation
  • Soil biodiversity
  • Water conservation
  • Hydrological processes
  • Arid and semi-arid areas

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Article
Compost Amendment Impact on Soil Physical Quality Estimated from Hysteretic Water Retention Curve
Water 2022, 14(7), 1002; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14071002 - 22 Mar 2022
Viewed by 461
Abstract
Capacity-based indicators of soil physical quality (SPQ) and pore distribution parameters were proposed to assess the effects of compost amendment but their determination was limited to desorption water retention experiments. This study also considered the pore size distribution obtained from adsorption experiments to [...] Read more.
Capacity-based indicators of soil physical quality (SPQ) and pore distribution parameters were proposed to assess the effects of compost amendment but their determination was limited to desorption water retention experiments. This study also considered the pore size distribution obtained from adsorption experiments to establish the effectiveness of compost amendment in modifying the physical and hydrological attributes of a sandy loam soil. Repacked soil samples with different compost to soil ratios, r, were subjected to a wetting–drying cycle, and the water retention data were fit to the van Genuchten model to obtain the pore volume distribution functions. The soil bulk density was minimally affected by the wetting–drying cycle but a significant negative correlation with r was obtained. The sorption process involved larger and more heterogeneous pores than the desorption one thus resulting in an estimation of the air capacity SPQ indicators (Pmac and AC) that were higher for the wetting–water retention curve (WWRC) than the drying one (DWRC). The opposite result was found for the water storage SPQ indicators (PAWC and RFC). In general, SPQ indicators and pore distribution parameters were generally outside the optimal range but estimates from the DWRC were closer to the reference values. The water entry potential increased and the air entry potential decreased with an increase in the compost rate. Significant correlations were found between the SPQ indicators estimated from the DWRC and r but the same result was not obtained for the WWRC. It was concluded that compost addition could trigger positive effects on soil hydrological processes and agronomic service as both water infiltration during wetting and water storage during drying are favored. However, the effectiveness of the sorption process for evaluating the physical quality of soils needs further investigation. Full article
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Article
Water Use and Soil Water Balance of Mediterranean Vineyards under Rainfed and Drip Irrigation Management: Evapotranspiration Partition and Soil Management Modelling for Resource Conservation
Water 2022, 14(4), 554; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14040554 - 12 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 600
Abstract
Vineyards represent complex Mediterranean agrosystems that deliver significant ecosystem services to society. Yet, many vine-growers still need to assimilate the importance of crop and soil management to the conservation of soil and water resources. The main objective of this study was to evaluate [...] Read more.
Vineyards represent complex Mediterranean agrosystems that deliver significant ecosystem services to society. Yet, many vine-growers still need to assimilate the importance of crop and soil management to the conservation of soil and water resources. The main objective of this study was to evaluate water use and the water balance terms in rainfed and irrigated vineyards in Italy and Portugal, respectively, in both cases aiming at the sustainability of natural resources use. The SIMDualKc model is used for both sites after calibration and validation by fitting soil water content measurements. The Italian case study focused on the impacts of inter-row conservation management in hillslope vineyards while the Portuguese case study analyzed irrigation water management under scarcity in flat vineyards. For the Italian vineyards, the model results focused on the evapotranspiration fluxes and their partition, control of surface runoff, and soil water recharge provided by the inter-row soil management using cover crops. Model results of the Portuguese case study showed the need for improving irrigation water use and the terms of water balance, namely referring to percolation and soil water evaporation. Both case studies further demonstrated the advantages of using computational tools to better cope with climate variability in the Mediterranean region and made evident the benefits of improved crop and soil management practices in counteracting land degradation and valuing the use and conservation of natural resources. Full article
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Article
Spatiotemporal Analysis of Evapotranspiration and Effects of Water and Heat on Water Use Efficiency
Water 2021, 13(21), 3019; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13213019 - 27 Oct 2021
Viewed by 584
Abstract
Water Use Efficiency (WUE) is an important indicator of the carbon cycle in the hydrological and ecological system. It is of great significance to study the response of different hydrological processes to climate and to understand ecosystem carbon sink. However, little is known [...] Read more.
Water Use Efficiency (WUE) is an important indicator of the carbon cycle in the hydrological and ecological system. It is of great significance to study the response of different hydrological processes to climate and to understand ecosystem carbon sink. However, little is known about the effects and mechanisms of precipitation and temperature on the WUE of different hydrological processes. Thus, three kinds of WUEs (GPP/E (eWUE), GPP/Et (tWUE), and GPP/P (pWUE)) are defined for three different hydrological indicators in semi-arid areas in this study in order to reveal the variation pattern of WUEs based on hydrological indicators and their response to climate. We found that in the past 15 years, the seasonal fluctuation of evapotranspiration in arid areas was large, and the spatial difference of WUE of different hydrological processes was obvious. In semi-arid areas, temperature had a significant effect on WUE (about 68–81%). However, precipitation had a lag effect on WUEs, and the negative impact of precipitation has a great influence (about 84–100%). Secondly, the threshold values of precipitation to WUEs (200 or 300 mm) and temperature to WUEs (2 or 7 °C) are also different from previous studies. This study advances our understanding of the influence of different hydrological processes on ecosystem carbon and climate. Full article
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Article
Estimation of Groundwater Evapotranspiration of Different Dominant Phreatophytes in the Mu Us Sandy Region
Water 2021, 13(4), 440; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13040440 - 08 Feb 2021
Viewed by 764
Abstract
Groundwater evapotranspiration (ETG) estimation is an important issue in semiarid areas for groundwater resources management and environmental protection. It is widely estimated by diurnal water table fluctuations. In this study, the ETG at four sites with different plants was estimated [...] Read more.
Groundwater evapotranspiration (ETG) estimation is an important issue in semiarid areas for groundwater resources management and environmental protection. It is widely estimated by diurnal water table fluctuations. In this study, the ETG at four sites with different plants was estimated using both diurnal water table and soil moisture fluctuations in the northeastern Mu Us sandy region, in order to identify the groundwater utilization strategy by different dominant phreatophytes. Groundwater level was monitored by ventilatory pressure transducers (Solinst LevelVent, Solinst Canada Ltd.; accuracy ±3 mm), while soil moisture was monitored using EM50 loggers (Decagon Devices Inc., Pullman, USA) in K1 and K14 and simulated by Hydrus-1D in other observation wells. A significant spatial variation of ETG was found within a limited area, indicating a poor representativeness of site ETG for regional estimation. The mean values of ETG are 4.01 mm/d, 6.03 mm/d, 8.96 mm/d, and 12.26 mm/d at the Achnatherum splendens site, Carex stenophylla site, Salix psammophila site and Populus alba site, respectively, for the whole growing season. ETG is more sensitive to depth to water table (DWT) in the Carex stenophylla site than in the Achnatherum splendens site for grass-dominated areas and more sensitive to DWT in the Populus alba site than in Salix psammophila site for tree-dominated areas. Groundwater extinction depths are estimated at 4.1 m, 2.4 m, 7.1 m, and 2.9 m in the Achnatherum splendens site, Carex stenophylla site, Salix psammophila site and Populus alba site, respectively. Full article
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Article
Technological Spaces in the Semi-Arid High Plains: Examining Well Ownership and Investment in Water-Saving Appliances
Water 2021, 13(3), 365; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13030365 - 31 Jan 2021
Viewed by 1105
Abstract
Groundwater depletion has been a consequential problem in Kansas, a drought-prone state widely reliant on the High Plains aquifer. This manuscript explores well ownership’s moderating effects on the relationships between awareness of water supplies and the use of water-saving devices. It assesses one [...] Read more.
Groundwater depletion has been a consequential problem in Kansas, a drought-prone state widely reliant on the High Plains aquifer. This manuscript explores well ownership’s moderating effects on the relationships between awareness of water supplies and the use of water-saving devices. It assesses one of the only quantitative datasets of private water well owners used in social scientific research (n = 864) and discusses the intricate results of multi-group structural equation models with respondents organized by their water supplies. Well ownership and water literacy are significantly correlated to owning water-conservation technologies, and well ownership combined with access to municipal water weakens the correlations between awareness and owning water-saving appliances. Full article
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Article
Silicon Fractionation of Soluble Silicon in Volcanic Ash Soils That May Affect Groundwater Silicon Content on Jeju Island, Korea
Water 2020, 12(10), 2686; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102686 - 25 Sep 2020
Viewed by 718
Abstract
Silicon (Si) is found in various fractions of soil, depending on the pedogenic processes of the environment. Dissolved Si (DSi) is adsorbed in soil particles or leaches through the soil profile into the groundwater. The objective of this study is to quantify, using [...] Read more.
Silicon (Si) is found in various fractions of soil, depending on the pedogenic processes of the environment. Dissolved Si (DSi) is adsorbed in soil particles or leaches through the soil profile into the groundwater. The objective of this study is to quantify, using the sequential extraction method, the different Si fractions in volcanic ash soils on Jeju Island that may affect groundwater Si content, and to compare them with those in forest soils on mainland Korea. Most of the Si in these soils was bound in unavailable forms as primary and secondary silicates. The second largest proportion of Si in the non-Andisols of Jeju Island and Korean mainland soils was accumulated as amorphous Si, while in the Andisols of Jeju Island, the second most significant Si fraction was in pedogenic oxides and hydroxides. The products of these soil formations were short-range-order minerals such as allophane (4–40%). The adsorbed Si concentration tended to increase at lower depths in Andisols (100–1400 mg kg−1) and was approximately five times higher than that in non-Andisols. The results indicate that Si is more soluble in the Andisols of high precipitation regions and that Andisols on Jeju Island potentially affect groundwater Si concentration. Full article
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Article
Sustainable Development of Arid Rangelands and Managing Rainwater in Gullies, Central Asia
Water 2020, 12(9), 2533; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12092533 - 10 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 925
Abstract
Along with the global climate change, gully erosion, flood and drought jointly restrict the sustainable development of arid rangeland in Central Asia. Rainwater harvesting (RWH) system in gully is a flexible practice that alleviate complex environmental problems. In the Kulusitai watershed of Xinjiang, [...] Read more.
Along with the global climate change, gully erosion, flood and drought jointly restrict the sustainable development of arid rangeland in Central Asia. Rainwater harvesting (RWH) system in gully is a flexible practice that alleviate complex environmental problems. In the Kulusitai watershed of Xinjiang, China, our study presented a decision-making system using GIS combined with multi-criteria analysis and a field survey to identify suitability of gully for RWH. The results showed that nearly 40% of rangeland belonged to high runoff potential area, and gullies as the runoff collection channel became the potential site of RWH. The selection of RWH systems depended on catchment environment and gully characteristics. Therefore, based on the unique natural conditions of Xinjiang and successful RWH cases in other regions, we discussed some suitable low-cost RWH techniques to restore degraded grassland and promote community development. Our study will provide some suggestions for ecological restoration and pasture management in arid regions of Central Asia. Full article
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Article
On the Origin of Deep Soil Water Infiltration in the Arid Sandy Region of China
Water 2020, 12(9), 2409; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12092409 - 27 Aug 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 920
Abstract
Soil water moisture is one of the most important influencing factors in the fragile ecosystems in arid sandy regions, and it serves as a bridge connecting the rainfall and groundwater, two important water sources in arid sandy regions. The hydrological process of an [...] Read more.
Soil water moisture is one of the most important influencing factors in the fragile ecosystems in arid sandy regions, and it serves as a bridge connecting the rainfall and groundwater, two important water sources in arid sandy regions. The hydrological process of an arid sandy region occurs sporadically and is highly non-uniform temporally, making it difficult to monitor and predict. The deep soil recharge (DSR) at a sufficiently deep soil layer (usually greater than 200 cm below ground surface) is an important indicator for groundwater recharge in the arid sandy region, and thus the quantitative determination of DSR is of great significance to the evaluation of water resources and the study of water balance in the arid sandy region. Due to the large amount of evaporation, small amount of precipitation, and the long term of the frozen-soil period in the winter and spring, the monitoring of infiltration and determination of DSR in the arid sandy region become challenging. This study selects the Ulanbuh desert plots in northern China to monitor DSR, precipitation and seasonal frozen soil thickness change, and reaches the following conclusions: Even though the annual precipitation is only 48.2 mm in the arid sandy region, DSR will still occur and replenish groundwater. The daily threshold of precipitation for generating measurable DSR is lower than 4 mm, where the DSR value is defined as the downward flux over a unit area per day hereinafter. DSR continues during the frozen period of the winter and spring seasons, and it is generated from water vapor transport and condensation in the deep sandy layer. Summer rainstorms do no show an obvious correlation with DSR, which is unexpected. This study reveals the characteristics of the dynamic water resources movement and transformation in the arid sandy area in Ulanbuh Desert and can serve as an important guideline for the quantitative assessment of water resources in arid sandy regions. Full article
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Article
Does the Process of Passive Forest Restoration Affect the Hydrophysical Attributes of the Soil Superficial Horizon?
Water 2020, 12(6), 1689; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061689 - 12 Jun 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1026
Abstract
There has been an increase in the area of secondary tropical forests in recent years due to forest restoration in degraded areas. Recent analyses suggest that the success of passive forest restoration is highly uncertain and needs to be better understood. This study [...] Read more.
There has been an increase in the area of secondary tropical forests in recent years due to forest restoration in degraded areas. Recent analyses suggest that the success of passive forest restoration is highly uncertain and needs to be better understood. This study aimed to investigate the behavior of saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks) and some hydrophysical soil attributes between agricultural land uses, restored forests, and a degraded forest fragment. The areas evaluated are located in the municipality of Rio Claro, São Paulo, Brazil, under different types of land use: (i) two areas in the process of passive forest restoration: one of 18 and another of 42 years (NR18 and NR42); (ii) a degraded forest fragment (FFD); (iii) pasture (P), and (iv) sugarcane (SC). The hydraulic soil conductivity characterization was performed using the Beerkan method. Dry soil bulk density (BD), total porosity (Pt), macroporosity (Mac), microporosity (Mic), penetration resistance (PR), mean aggregate diameter (MWD), and soil organic carbon (OC) were also determined. The comparative analysis of the hydrophysical attributes of the soil superficial horizon in agricultural land uses (P and SC), restored forests (NR18 and NR42), and a degraded forest (DFF) confirms that the recovery of soil hydrological functioning in ongoing forest restoration processes can be a relatively slow process. In addition, the intensity of previous land use leaves footprints that can affect passive restoration areas for decades after agriculture abandonment, increasing the time for the recovery of Ks and soil hydrophysical attributes. Full article
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Article
Environmental Control on Transpiration: A Case Study of a Desert Ecosystem in Northwest China
Water 2020, 12(4), 1211; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12041211 - 24 Apr 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1237
Abstract
Arid and semi-arid ecosystems represent a crucial but poorly understood component of the global water cycle. Taking a desert ecosystem as a case study, we measured sap flow in three dominant shrub species and concurrent environmental variables over two mean growing seasons. Commercially [...] Read more.
Arid and semi-arid ecosystems represent a crucial but poorly understood component of the global water cycle. Taking a desert ecosystem as a case study, we measured sap flow in three dominant shrub species and concurrent environmental variables over two mean growing seasons. Commercially available gauges (Flow32 meters) based on the constant power stem heat balance (SHB) method were used. Stem-level sap flow rates were scaled up to stand level to estimate stand transpiration using the species-specific frequency distribution of stem diameter. We found that variations in stand transpiration were closely related to changes in solar radiation (Rs), air temperature (T), and vapor pressure deficit (VPD) at the hourly scale. Three factors together explained 84% and 77% variations in hourly stand transpiration in 2014 and 2015, respectively, with Rs being the primary driving force. We observed a threshold control of VPD (~2 kPa) on stand transpiration in two-year study periods, suggesting a strong stomatal regulation of transpiration under high evaporative demand conditions. Clockwise hysteresis loops between diurnal transpiration and T and VPD were observed and exhibited seasonal variations. Both the time lags and refill and release of stem water storage from nocturnal sap flow were possible causes for the hysteresis. These findings improve the understanding of environmental control on water flux of the arid and semi-arid ecosystems and have important implications for diurnal hydrology modelling. Full article
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