Depth distribution of soil water sourced by plants at the global scale: a new direct inference approach

Anam Amin* (Corresponding Author), Giulia Zuecco, Josie Geris, Luitgard Schwendenmann, Jeffrey J McDonnell, Marco Borga, Daniele Penna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The depth distribution of soil water contributions to plant water uptake is poorly known. Here we evaluate the main water sources used by plants at the global scale and the effect of climate and plant groups on water uptake variability and depth distribution. We use meta‐analysis of published isotopic data (δ2H and δ18O) for soil water and xylem water from 65 peer‐reviewed papers published between 1990 and 2017. The isotopic composition of soil water was strongly related to climate. We applied a new direct inference method to quantify the overlap between xylem water and soil water sources used by plants. The median overlap between xylem water and soil water at different depths varied between 28 and 100%, but they were generally >50%. The shallow soil water overlap (0‐10 cm) was largest in cold regions (100% ± 0) and lowest at tropical sites (about 28%). Conversely, the median overlap between xylem water and deep soil water was largest in the arid and the tropical zones (>75%) and much smaller in the other two climates. Our results suggest that the isotopic composition of xylem water reflects mostly the signature of shallow soil water (<30 cm) in the cold and the temperate zones, while in the arid and the tropical zones, plants appear to exploit water in deeper soil layers. Our novel simple statistically‐based direct inference method performed well in determining these differences in water sources, and can be applied more widely to isotope‐based plant water uptake studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2177
JournalEcohydrology
Early online date5 Dec 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Dec 2019

Fingerprint

vertical distribution
soil water
xylem
water uptake
water
shallow soil
climate
tropics
isotopic composition
shallow water
cold region
cold zones
temperate zones
water depth
deep water
methodology
soil

Keywords

  • xylem water
  • soil water
  • stable isotopes
  • deuterium excess
  • global scale
  • meta-analysis
  • climate
  • direct interface

Cite this

Depth distribution of soil water sourced by plants at the global scale : a new direct inference approach. / Amin, Anam (Corresponding Author); Zuecco, Giulia; Geris, Josie; Schwendenmann, Luitgard; McDonnell, Jeffrey J; Borga, Marco; Penna, Daniele.

In: Ecohydrology, 05.12.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Amin, Anam ; Zuecco, Giulia ; Geris, Josie ; Schwendenmann, Luitgard ; McDonnell, Jeffrey J ; Borga, Marco ; Penna, Daniele. / Depth distribution of soil water sourced by plants at the global scale : a new direct inference approach. In: Ecohydrology. 2019.
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