Stable Isotopic Analysis on Water Utilization of Two Xerophytic Shrubs in a Revegetated Desert Area: Tengger Desert, China

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Huang, Lei ; Zhang, Zhishan (2015)
  • Publisher: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
  • Journal: Water (issn: 2073-4441)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3390/w7031030
  • Subject: Caragana korshinskii | water sources | Water supply for domestic and industrial purposes | revegetated desert area | TD201-500 | TC1-978 | <i>Artemisia ordosica</i> | Artemisia ordosica | Hydraulic engineering | <i>Caragana korshinskii</i> | stable isotope

Stable isotope studies on stable isotope ratios of hydrogen and oxygen in water within plants provide new information on water sources and water use patterns under natural conditions. In this study, the sources of water uptake for two typical xerophytic shrubs, Caragana korshinskii and Artemisia ordosica, were determined at four different-aged revegetated sites (1956, 1964, 1981, and 1987) in the Tengger Desert, a revegetated desert area in China. Samples from precipitation, soil water at different soil layers, and xylem water from each species were collected in 2013. The proportion of plant water sources derived from different potential sources was determined using oxygen (δ18O) and hydrogen (δD) stable isotope analysis combined with a multiple-source linear mixing model. Results showed that the local meteoric water line (LMWL) at Shapotou was as follows: δD = 7.39δ18O + 3.91 (R2 = 0.93; n = 26). The vertical distribution of soil water content in older vegetation areas (1956a and 1964a) was much lower than that in relatively younger vegetation areas (1981a and 1987a). Mean soil water δD and δ18O values varied with depth, and the variation decreased as the age of the revegetated site increased. In general, C. korshinskii and A. ordosica mainly tapped water from the upper soil layer (10–100 cm) during the wet seasons. With increasing sand stabilization age, the proportion of water sources from shallow soil water decreased, whereas deep soil moisture utilization increased. During the dry season, C. korshinskii and A. ordosica showed evident hierarchical utilization of soil water in different soil layers. Small rainfall events did not significantly affect the water source of C. korshinskii and A. ordosica. However, large rainfall events not only complemented the deep soil moisture, but also recharged the shallow soil water after a few days, and the proportion of soil water source from deep soil layer increased from 2% ± 0.7% to 10% ± 1.4% for both plants.
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