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In the sagebrush/bunchgrass steppe of the North American Great Basin soil water potential has been shown to exhibit diel fluctuations with water potential increasing during the night as a result of water loss from roots in relatively dry soil layers. We hypothesized that environmental conditions promoting low transpiration rates (shading, cloudiness) would cause a net increase in soil water potential as a result of reduced soil water depletion during the day and continuing water efflux from roots during the night. We examined the response of soil water potential to artificial shading in sagebrush/bunchgrass plantings and used a simple model to predict how soil water potential should respond to reduced transpiration....
Diel soil water potential fluctuations reflected daytime depletion and nocturnal resupply of water in upper soil layers. Transpiration suppression experiments demonstrated that water absorption by roots caused the daytime depletion. The soil water potential data and experimental results suggest that at night water absorbed from moist soil by deeper roots is transported to and lost from roots into drier upper soil layers. The deeper roots appear to absorb and transport water both day and night. Implications for the efficiency of deep roots and water storage, nutrient uptake and water parasitism in upper soil layers are discussed. Published in Oecologia, volume 73, issue 4, on pages 486 - 489, in 1987.

    map background search result map search result map The influence of shade and clouds on soil water potential: The buffered behavior of hydraulic lift