Speculations on the application of foliar 13C discrimination to reveal groundwater dependency of vegetation and provide estimates of root depth and rates of groundwater use

Rumman, Rizwana, Cleverly, James, Nolan, Rachael H., Tarin, Tonantzin, and Eamus, Derek (2018) Speculations on the application of foliar 13C discrimination to reveal groundwater dependency of vegetation and provide estimates of root depth and rates of groundwater use. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 22. pp. 4875-4889.

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Abstract

Groundwater-dependent vegetation is globally distributed, having important ecological, social, and economic value. Along with the groundwater resources upon which it depends, this vegetation is under increasing threat through excessive rates of groundwater extraction.

In this study we examined one shallow-rooted and two deep-rooted tree species at multiple sites along a naturally occurring gradient in depth-to-groundwater. We measured (i) stable isotope ratios of leaves (δ13C), xylem, and groundwater (δ2H and δ18O); and (ii) leaf-vein density. We established that foliar discrimination of 13C (Δ13C) is a reliable indicator of groundwater use by vegetation and can also be used to estimate rooting depth. Through comparison with a continental-scale assessment of foliar Δ13C, we also estimated the upper limits to annual rates of groundwater use. We conclude that maximum rooting depth for both deep-rooted species ranged between 9.4 and 11.2 m and that annual rates of groundwater use ranged from ca. 1400 to 1700 mm for Eucalyptus camaldulensis and from 600 to 900 mm for Corymbia opaca. Several predictions about hydraulic and leaf traits arising from the conclusion that these two species made extensive use of groundwater were supported by additional independent studies of these species in central Australia.

Item ID: 73472
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1607-7938
Copyright Information: © Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2022 01:56
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410203 Ecosystem function @ 75%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3108 Plant biology > 310806 Plant physiology @ 25%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180601 Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems @ 100%
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