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Seasonal dynamics of soil water content in the typical vegetation and its response to precipitation in a semi-arid area of Chinese Loess Plateau

Abstract

Soil water content is a key limiting factor for vegetation growth in the semi-arid area of Chinese Loess Plateau and precipitation is the main source of soil water content in this area. To further understand the impact of vegetation types and environmental factors such as precipitation on soil water content, we continuously monitored the seasonal dynamics in soil water content in four plots (natural grassland, Caragana korshinskii, Armeniaca sibirica and Pinus tabulaeformis) in Chinese Loess Plateau. The results show that the amplitude of soil water content fluctuation decreases with an increase in soil depth, showing obvious seasonal variations. Soil water content of artificial vegetation was found to be significantly lower than that of natural grassland, and most precipitation events have difficulty replenishing soil water content below a depth of 40 cm. Spring and autumn are the key seasons for replenishment of soil water by precipitation. Changes in soil water content are affected by precipitation, vegetation types, soil evaporation and other factors. The interception effect of vegetation on precipitation and the demand for water consumption by transpiration are the key factors affecting the efficiency of soil water replenishment by precipitation in this area. Due to artificial vegetation plantation in this area, soil will face a water deficit crisis in the future.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA20100101), the Major Special Science and Technology Project of Gansu Province, China (18ZD2FA009), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31522013).

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Correspondence to Changming Zhao.

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Zhou, T., Han, C., Qiao, L. et al. Seasonal dynamics of soil water content in the typical vegetation and its response to precipitation in a semi-arid area of Chinese Loess Plateau. J. Arid Land 13, 1015–1025 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-021-0021-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-021-0021-5

Keywords

  • soil water content
  • vegetation type
  • precipitation
  • seasonal change
  • evaporation