24 Apr 2023
 | 24 Apr 2023
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Root water uptake patterns are controlled by tree species interactions and soil water variability

Gökben Demir, Andrew J. Guswa, Janett Filipzik, Johanna Clara Metzger, Christine Römermann, and Anke Hildebrandt

Abstract. Throughfall is the largest source of water entering the soil in forests, and its spatial distribution depends on several biotic and abiotic factors. It is well documented that the distribution of throughfall results in reoccurring higher and lower water inputs at certain locations. However, the role of horizontal root water uptake patterns in understanding the effects of throughfall patterns on subsurface water dynamics remains unresolved. Therefore, here we investigate root water uptake patterns by considering spatial patterns of throughfall and soil water patterns in addition to soil and neighboring tree characteristics. We conducted weekly intensive throughfall sampling at locations paired with soil moisture sensors during the 2019 growing season. We employed a linear mixed effects model to understand controlling factors for root water uptake patterns. Our results show that soil water patterns and interactions among neighbouring trees are the most significant factors regulating root water uptake patterns. Temporally stable throughfall patterns did not influence root water uptake patterns. Similarly, soil properties were unimportant for spatial patterns of root water uptake. We found that wetter locations (rarely associated with throughfall hotspots) promoted greater root water uptake. Root water uptake in monitored soil layers also increased with neighbourhood species richness. Ultimately our findings suggest that complementarity mechanisms within the forest stand, in addition to soil water variability and availability, govern root water uptake patterns.

Gökben Demir et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2023-91', Anonymous Referee #1, 30 May 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Gökben Demir, 20 Sep 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2023-91', Anonymous Referee #2, 13 Aug 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Gökben Demir, 20 Sep 2023

Gökben Demir et al.

Gökben Demir et al.


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Short summary
Precipitation passing through the canopy in forest ecosystems creates recurring wetter and drier patches on the soil surface. The wetter locations may provide readily accessible water inputs to root structures. Here, we investigated the drivers of root water uptake patterns. We found that not below-canopy precipitation patterns, but tree species interactions and soil moisture variability, control root water uptake patterns in a natural forest.