Woody plant encroachment alters soil hydrological properties and reduces downward flux of water in tallgrass prairie
- 485 Downloads
Background and aims
Plant and soil interact to shape ecosystem properties, processes and services provided. Changes in ecosystem productivity, biogeochemical cycling and plant herbivore interactions have been widely reported when herbaceous plants are replaced by woody plants, but limited information is available on how woody plant encroachment alters temporal dynamics of deep soil moisture and long-term drainage rates in the tallgrass prairie.
We quantified soil water content using capacitance probes for a period of four years, and used both chloride mass balance (CMB) and HYDRUS-1D modelling to depict alteration of deep soil water dynamics and long-term drainage rates after Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) encroachment into the tallgrass prairie.
Eastern redcedar encroachment resulted in more frequent depletion of soil water at the 80-cm depth. The chloride ion (Cl−) was used to estimate deep drainage rate because of its nonreactive nature. The ion is neither repelled nor absorbed by soil particles and sediments. Mean soil chloride concentration after encroachment was significantly higher than that in tallgrass prairie. The estimated deep drainage rate based on CMB method was 9.0 mm yr.−1 in the tallgrass prairie and 0.3 mm yr.−1 in the encroached site. The cumulative bottom fluxes were 27.5 cm and 17.1 cm in the tallgrass prairie and eastern redcedar encroached sites, respectively for the HYDRUS simulation period 2011–2014.
Transformation of tallgrass prairie to eastern redcedar woodland in the rolling hills of the southern Great Plains reduced soil water content, water storage and downward flux of water. Thus, woody plant encroachment into tallgrass prairie has the potential to reduce groundwater recharge in dry sub-humid regions.
KeywordsChloride mass balance HYDRUS-1D Tallgrass prairie Juniperus virginiana Woody plant encroachment Deep drainage
The authors thank two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments. The study was supported by USGS OWRRI grants and USDA NIFA award (2014-67010-216530). The data analysis and paper writing were partially supported with funding from NSF EPSCoR (NSF-1301789), NSF Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) program (DEB-1413900) and Tianjin Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Environment. The authors extend their appreciation to Briana Sallee from Plant and Soil Sciences, Oklahoma State University, for her technical assistance with HYDRUS-1D. The authors thank Dr. Daihua Qi for assisting in the soil sampling for chloride study and Elaine Stebler for providing logistical support. Thanks go to Drs. Todd Halihan, Rodney Will and Garey Fox for their constructive comments on the earlier version of the manuscript, and Dr. Henry Adams for proof reading the manuscript before submission.
- Farzamian M, Santos FAM, Khalil MA (2015) Estimation of unsaturated hydraulic parameters in sandstone using electrical resistivity tomography under a water injection test. JAG 121:71–83Google Scholar
- Feddes RA, Kowalik PJ, Zaradny H (1978) Simulation of field water use and crop yield. Centre for Agricultural Publishing and Documentation (PUDOC), Wageningen, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
- Henley J, Gelnar R, Mayhugh RE (1987) Soil survey of Payne County. US Government Printing Office, OklahomaGoogle Scholar
- Hopmans J, Simunek J (1999) Review of inverse estimation of soil hydraulic properties. Proceedings of the International Workshop on Characterization and Measurement of the Hydraulic Properties of Unsaturated Porous Media, University of California, Riverside, CA, pp 643–659Google Scholar
- Jackson R, Canadell J, Ehleringer JR, Mooney H, Sala O, Schulze E (1996) A global analysis of root distributions for terrestrial biomes. Oecologia 108:389–411Google Scholar
- Kim JH, Jackson RB (2012) A global analysis of groundwater recharge for vegetation, climate, and soils. Vadose Zone J 11. doi: 10.2136/vzj2011.0021RA
- Lv L, Franz TE, Robinson DA, Jones SB (2014) Measured and modeled soil moisture compared with cosmic-ray neutron probe estimates in a mixed forest. Vadose Zone J 13. doi: 10.2136/vzj2014.06.0077
- Ping J, Nichol C, Wei X (2014) Quantification of groundwater recharge using the chloride mass balance method in a semi-arid mountain terrain, south interior British Columbia, Canada. J Chem Pharm Res 6:383–388Google Scholar
- Ries F, Lange J, Schmidt S, Puhlmann H, Sauter M (2015) Recharge estimation and soil moisture dynamics in a Mediterranean, semi-arid karst region. HESS 19:1439–1456Google Scholar
- Šimůnek J, Sejna M, van Genuchten MT (1998) The HYDRUS-1D software package for simulating the one-dimensional movement of water, heat, and multiple solutes in variably-saturated media. Version 2.0 Agricultural Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, Riverside, CA, USAGoogle Scholar
- Tolmie P, Silburn D (2003) Estimating deep drainage in the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin: Review of past research. Department of Natural Resources and Mines, QNRM04100, Toowoomba, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
- Van Genuchten MT (1987) A numerical model for water and solute movement in and below the root zone. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service US Salinity Laboratory, Riverside, CAGoogle Scholar
- Wollschläger U, Pfaff T, Roth K (2009) Field-scale apparent hydraulic parameterisation obtained from TDR time series and inverse modelling. HESS 13:1953–1966Google Scholar