Hydraulic lift among native plant species in the Mojave Desert
- Cite this article as:
- Yoder, C.K. & Nowak, R.S. Plant and Soil (1999) 215: 93. doi:10.1023/A:1004729232466
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Hydraulic lift was investigated among native plants in the Mojave Desert using in situ thermocouple psychrometers. Night lighting and day shading experiments were used to verify the phenomenon. Hydraulic lift was detected for all species examined: five shrub species with different rooting depths and leaf phenologies and one perennial grass species. This study was the first to document hydraulic lift for a CAM species, Yucca schidigera. The pattern of diel flux in soil water potential for the CAM species was temporally opposite to that of C3 species: for the CAM plant, soil water potential increased in shallow soils during the day when the plant was not transpiring and decreased at night when transpiration began. Because CAM plants transport water to shallow soils during the day when surrounding C3 and C4 plants transpire, CAM species that hydraulically lift water may influence water relations of surrounding species to a greater extent than hydraulically lifting C3 or C4 species. A strong, negative relationship between the percent sand in the study site soils at the 0.35 m soil depth and the frequency that hydraulic lift was observed at that depth suggests that the occurrence of hydraulic lift is negatively influenced by coarse-textured soils, perhaps due to less root–soil contact in sandy soils relative to finer-textured soils. Differences in soil texture among study sites may explain, in part, differences in the frequency that hydraulic lift was detected among these species. Further investigations are needed to elucidate species versus soil texture effects on hydraulic lift.