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Water conservation is important for plants that maintain physiologically active foliage during prolonged periods of drought. A variety of mechanisms for water conservation exist including stomatal regulation, foliage loss, above- and below-ground allocation patterns, size of xylem vessels and leaf pubescence. Using the results of a field and simulation study with Artemisia tridentata in the Great Basin, USA, we propose an additional mechanism of water conservation that can be used by plants in arid and semi-arid environments following pulses of water availability. Precipitation redistributed more uniformly in the soil column by roots (hydraulic redistribution of water downward) slows the rate at which this water...
The temporal patterns of soil water potential in a stand of Artemisia tridentata in central Utah, USA, were monitored during the summer, which included small periodic rainfall events, and over the winter, when most of the soil recharge occurs in this environment. The pattern of recharge, when compared to an area cleared of aboveground vegetation, strongly indicated that the downward movement of water to 1.5 m was primarily conducted via roots by the process known as hydraulic redistribution. Rainwater was moved rapidly downward shortly after the rain event and continued over a period of a few days. For rainwater reaching a 0.3–1.5 m depth, the portion redistributed by roots was estimated to range from 100% for...

    map background search result map search result map Water conservation in Artemisia tridentata through redistribution of precipitation Rapid soil moisture recharge to depth by roots in a stand of Artemisia tridentata