J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2008, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (3): 257-264.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2007.00633.x

Special Issue: Ecology and Global Changes

• Bioenergy Plants •     Next Articles

Water Sources of Dominant Species in Three Alpine Ecosystems on the Tibetan Plateau, China

De-Yu Duan, Hua Ouyang, Ming-Hua Song and Qi-Wu Hu   

  • Received:2007-01-10 Accepted:2007-02-28

Abstract: Plant water sources were estimated by two or three compartment linear mixing models using hydrogen and oxygen isotope (δD and δ18O) values of different components such as plant xylem water, precipitation and river water as well as soil water on the Tibetan Plateau in the summer of 2005. Four dominant species (Quercus aquifolioides, Pinus tabulaeformis, Salix rehderiana and Nitraria tangutorum) in three typical ecosystems (forest, shrub and desert) were investigated in this study. Stable isotope ratios of the summer precipitations and the soil water presented variations in spatial and temporal scales. δ18O values of N. tangutorum xylem water were constant in the whole growth season and very similar to those of deep soil water. Water sources for all of the plants came from both precipitations and soil water. Plants switched rapidly among different water sources when environmental water conditions changed. Rainwater had different contributions to the plants, which was influenced by amounts of precipitation. The percentage of plant xylem water derived from rainwater rose with an increase in precipitation. Water sources for broad-leaved and coniferous species were different although they grew in the same environmental conditions. For example, the broad-leaved species Q. aquifolioides used mainly the water from deep soil, while 92.5% of xylem water of the coniferous species P. tabulaeformis was derived from rainwater during the growth season. The study will be helpful for us to fully understand responses of species on the Tibetan Plateau to changes in precipitation patterns, and to assess accurately changes of vegetation distribution in the future.

Key words: δD, δ18O, precipitation, river water, soil water, the Tibetan Plateau

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