Ecological Research

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 581–587 | Cite as

Use of 2H and 18O stable isotopes to investigate water sources for different ages of Populus euphratica along the lower Heihe River

  • Shubao Liu
  • Yaning Chen
  • Yapeng Chen
  • Jonathan M. Friedman
  • Jarre Heng A. Hati
  • Gonghuan Fang
Original Article


Investigation of the water sources used by trees of different ages is essential to formulate a conservation strategy for the riparian tree, P. euphratica. This study addressed the contributions of different potential water sources to P. euphratica based on levels of stable oxygen and hydrogen isotopes (δ18O, δ2H) in the xylem of different aged P. euphratica, as well as in soil water and groundwater along the lower Heihe River. We found significant differences in δ18O values in the xylem of different aged P. euphratica. Specifically, the δ18O values of young, mature and over-mature forests were −5.368(±0.252) ‰, −6.033(± 0.185) ‰ and −6.924 (± 0.166) ‰, respectively, reflecting the reliance of older trees on deeper sources of water with a δ18O value closer to that of groundwater. Different aged P. euphratica used different water sources, with young forests rarely using groundwater (mean <15 %) and instead primarily relying on soil water from a depth of 0–50 cm (mean >45 %), and mature and over-mature forests using water from deeper than 100 cm derived primarily from groundwater.


Water sources Populus euphratica 2H and 18O stable isotopes Heihe River Tree age 



This study was jointly supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grants No. 41371515) and the National Science and Technology support plan (2014BAC15B02).


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shubao Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yaning Chen
    • 1
  • Yapeng Chen
    • 1
  • Jonathan M. Friedman
    • 3
  • Jarre Heng A. Hati
    • 2
  • Gonghuan Fang
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and GeographyChinese Academy of SciencesUrumqiChina
  2. 2.Xinjiang Key Laboratory for Environmental Pollution Monitoring and Risk WarningXinjiang Academy of Environmental Protection ScienceXinjiangChina
  3. 3.United States Geological SurveyFort Collins Science CenterFort CollinsUSA

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