Impact of interspecific interactions on the soil water uptake depth in a young temperate mixed species plantation

TitleImpact of interspecific interactions on the soil water uptake depth in a young temperate mixed species plantation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsC. G, Gessler A., Granier A., Berger S., Bréchet C., Hentschel R., Hommel P., Scherer-Lorenzen M., Bonal D.
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Volume519, Part D
Start Page3511
Date Published11/2014
KeywordsCompetition, Deuterium, FunDivEUROPE, Mixed forest, Root, Water uptake
Abstract

Interactions between tree species in forests can be beneficial to ecosystem functions and services related to the carbon and water cycles by improving for example transpiration and productivity. However, little is known on below- and above-ground processes leading to these positive effects. We tested whether stratification in soil water uptake depth occurred between four tree species in a 10-year-old temperate mixed species plantation during a dry summer. We selected dominant and co-dominant trees of European beech, Sessile oak, Douglas fir and Norway spruce in areas with varying species diversity, competition intensity, and where different plant functional types (broadleaf vs. conifer) were present. We applied a deuterium labelling approach that consisted of spraying labelled water to the soil surface to create a strong vertical gradient of the deuterium isotope composition in the soil water. The deuterium isotope composition of both the xylem sap and the soil water was measured before labelling, and then again three days after labelling, to estimate the soil water uptake depth using a simple modelling approach. We also sampled leaves and needles from selected trees to measure their carbon isotope composition (a proxy for water use efficiency) and total nitrogen content. At the end of the summer, we found differences in the soil water uptake depth between plant functional types but not within types: on average, coniferous species extracted water from deeper layers than did broadleaved species. Neither species diversity nor competition intensity had a detectable influence on soil water uptake depth, foliar water use efficiency or foliar nitrogen concentration in the species studied. However, when coexisting with an increasing proportion of conifers, beech extracted water from progressively deeper soil layers. We conclude that complementarity for water uptake could occur in this 10-year-old plantation because of inherent differences among functional groups (conifers and broadleaves). Furthermore, water uptake depth of beech was already influenced at this young development stage by interspecific interactions whereas no clear niche differentiation occurred for the other species. This finding does not preclude that plasticity-mediated responses to species interactions could increase as the plantation ages, leading to the coexistence of these species in adult forest stands.

URLhttp://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022169414008968
DOI10.1016/j.jhydrol.2014.11.011
Refereed DesignationRefereed

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