Evaluating the influence of water table depth on transpiration of two vegetation communities in a lake floodplain wetland

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Groundwater plays an important role in supplying water to vegetation in floodplain wetlands. Exploring the effect of water table depth (WTD) on vegetation transpiration is essential to increasing understanding of interactions among vegetation, soil water, and groundwater. In this study, a HYDRUS-1D model was used to simulate the water uptake of two typical vegetation communities, Artemisia capillaris and Phragmites australis, in a floodplain wetland (Poyang Lake wetland, China). Vegetation transpiration was compared for two distinct hydrological conditions: high water table (2012) and low water table (2013). Results showed that vegetation transpiration in the main growth stage (July–October) was significantly influenced by WTD. Under high water table conditions, transpiration of A. capillaris and P. australis communities in the main growth stage totaled 334 and 735 mm, respectively, accounting for over 90% of the potential transpiration. Under low water table conditions, they decreased to 203 and 510 mm, respectively, due to water stress, accounting for merely 55% of the potential transpiration. Scenario simulations found different linear relationships between WTD and the ratio of groundwater contribution to vegetation transpiration. An increase of 1 m in WTD in the main growth stage may reduce the ratio by approximately 25%.

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