Plant and Soil

, Volume 291, Issue 1–2, pp 67–79 | Cite as

Can water responses in Stipa tenacissima L. during the summer season be promoted by non-rainfall water gains in soil?

  • David A. Ramírez
  • Juan Bellot
  • Francisco Domingo
  • Adela Blasco
Original Paper


This article reports on quantified soil water gains and their possible effects on summer water relationships in a semiarid Stipa tenacissima L. grasslands located in SE Spain. We believe that the net soil water gains detected using minilysimeters could be from soil water vapour adsorption (WVA). Our study of high water-stress showed stomatal conductance (21.8–43.1 mmol H2O m−2 s−1) in S. tenacissima leaves unusual for the summer season, and the evapotranspiration from S. tenacissima grassland, estimated by a multi-source sparse evapotranspiration model, closely corresponding to total WVA. This highlights the importance of summer soil WVA to stomatal conductance and vital transpiration in S. tenacissima. This study measured pre-dawn leaf water potential (ψ) response to sporadic light rainfall, finding that a light summer rainfall (1.59 mm day−1) was sufficient to vary ψ in S. tenacissima from −3.8 (close to the turgour loss point) to −2.7 MPa. We hypothesize that soil WVA can supply vegetation with water vital to its survival in seasons with a severe water deficit, giving rise to a close relationship between soil water dynamics and plant water response.


Evapotranspiration Leaf water potential Minilysimeter Soil water vapour adsorption Stipa tenacissima Stomatal conductance 



Financial support was provided by the “Efecto de la cubierta vegetal en el balance hídrico y en la disponibilidad y calidad del agua propuesta para aumentar la recarga de acuíferos” Project, funded by the CICYT (REN2000-0529HID, CGL2004-03627), by the European Community “AQUADAPT: Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development” (EVK1-2001-00149) and “CANOA: Caracterización y modelización de procesos y regimenes hidrológicos en cuencas aforadas para la predicción en cuencas no aforadas” (CGL2004-04919-C02-01/HID) projects. David A. Ramírez received a grant for his Ph.D. thesis research from the University of Alicante. We are very grateful for the valuable comments and suggestions made by Dr. Jesús Fernández Gálvez and anonymous referees. Deborah Fuldauer corrected and improved the English text


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Ramírez
    • 1
    • 2
  • Juan Bellot
    • 1
  • Francisco Domingo
    • 3
    • 4
  • Adela Blasco
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de EcologíaUniversity of AlicanteAlicanteSpain
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Ecología de Procesos, Dpto. BiologíaUniversidad Nacional Agraria La MolinaLimaPerú
  3. 3.Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasAlmeríaSpain
  4. 4.Departamento de Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Escuela Politécnica SuperiorUniversidad de AlmeríaAlmeríaSpain

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