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Deuterated water absorbed by deep roots of Artemisia tridentata appeared in the stem water of neighboring Agropyron desertorum tussocks. This supports the hypothesis that water absorbed by deep roots in moist soil moves through the roots, is released in the upper soil profile at night, and is stored there until it is resorbed by roots the following day. This phenomenon is termed hydraulic lift. The potential for parasitism of the water stored in the upper soil layers by neighboring plant roots is also shown. The effectiveness of water absorption by deep roots was substantially improved with hydraulic lift as indicated by reductions of 25 to 50% in transpiration on days following experimental circumvention of hydraulic...
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.
1. Soil characteristics influence plant communities in part through water relations. Hypothetically, finer textured soils in arid climates should be associated with more negative plant and soil water potentials during drought, greater resistance of xylem to cavitation, and shallower root systems than coarse soils. 2. These hypotheses were tested by comparing the water relations of Great Basin shrubs growing in sand versus loam soils. The eight study species (Chrysothamnus nauseosus, Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus, Chrysothamnus parryi, Tetradymia glabrata, Atriplex canescens, Atriplex confertifolia, Grayia spinosa and Sarcobatus vermiculatus) varied in typical rooting depth and vegetative phenology. 3. Xylem pressures...