Articles | Volume 24, issue 6
Research article
10 Jun 2020
Research article |  | 10 Jun 2020

Disentangling temporal and population variability in plant root water uptake from stable isotopic analysis: when rooting depth matters in labeling studies

Valentin Couvreur, Youri Rothfuss, Félicien Meunier, Thierry Bariac, Philippe Biron, Jean-Louis Durand, Patricia Richard, and Mathieu Javaux


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Short summary
Isotopic labeling of soil water is a broadly used tool for tracing the origin of water extracted by plants and computing root water uptake (RWU) profiles with multisource mixing models. In this study, we show how a method such as this may misconstrue time series of xylem water isotopic composition as the temporal dynamics of RWU by simulating data collected during a tall fescue rhizotron experiment with an isotope-enabled physical soil–root model accounting for variability in root traits.