Spatial and temporal patterns of soil water storage and vegetation water use in humid northern catchments

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Using stable isotope data from soil and vegetation xylem samples across a range of landscape positions, this study provides preliminary insights into spatial patterns and temporal dynamics of soil-plant water interactions in a humid, low-energy northern environment. Our analysis showed that evaporative fractionation affected the isotopic signatures in soil water at shallow depths but was less marked than previously observed in other environments. By comparing the temporal dynamics of stable isotopes in soil water mainly held at suctions around and below field capacity, we found that these waters are not clearly separated. The study inferred that vegetation water sources at all sites were relatively constant, and most likely to be in the upper profile close to the soil/atmosphere interface. The data analyses also suggested that both vegetation type and landscape position, including soil type, may have a strong influence on local water uptake patterns, although more work is needed to explicitly identify water sources and understand the effect of plant physiological processes on xylem isotopic water signatures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-493
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date2 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

We are thankful for the assistance of Audrey Innes (University of Aberdeen) and Kim Janzen (University of Saskatchewan) with soil and vegetation laboratory sample preparation and analyses. We would like to thank the European Research Council (ERC, project GA 335910 VeWa) for funding. The comments from two reviewers greatly improved an earlier version of the manuscript, for which we are highly grateful.


  • vegetation water use
  • soil water storage
  • isotopes


Dive into the research topics of 'Spatial and temporal patterns of soil water storage and vegetation water use in humid northern catchments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this