The coupled effect of soil and atmospheric constraints on the vulnerability and water use of two desert riparian ecosystems

Yan Bai, Yanlan Liu, Lara M. Kueppers, Xue Feng, Kailiang Yu, Xiaofan Yang, Xiaoyan Li, Jianping Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Plant response to soil and atmospheric water stresses is the dominant control of Dryland ecosystem functions, affecting water resources, ecosystem stability and biodiversity. The link between water stresses and plant water status is regulated by plant hydraulics, of which the corresponding impact on plant water use and the susceptibility of Dryland ecosystems remains under-explored. We used a plant hydraulic model to describe hydraulic states and water flux of two species (Populus euphratica and Tamarix ramosissima) in desert riparian ecosystems. We optimized hydraulic parameters and tested the model using observed physiological states and ecosystem water flux. The optimized model was used to evaluate plant hydraulic sensitivity, tree mortality risk, and evapotranspiration under a wide range of water stress scenarios. The model captures the observed leaf water potential, sap-flow and ecosystem evapotranspiration. Our scenario analysis demonstrates that hydraulic sensitivities generally reduce as the water stresses intensify. The results highlight a strong coupled impact of the co-occurrence of soil and atmospheric water stresses on restricting ecosystem water flux and intensifying mortality risk. The assessment of multiple aspects of eco-physiological functions and the stress scenario analysis of desert riparian ecosystems will contribute to a better prediction of ecosystem functions and facilitate resource management under future climate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108701
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
StatePublished - Dec 15 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41991231, 42101023 , and 42041004 ). Yan Bai acknowledges support from all the scientists and students who participated in the HiWATER field campaigns. This research used the Savio computational cluster resource provided by the Berkeley Research Computing program at the University of California, Berkeley (supported by the UC Berkeley Chancellor, Vice Chancellor for Research, and Chief Information Officer).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Evapotranspiration
  • Mortality risk
  • Plant hydraulics
  • Water flux
  • Water stresses
  • Water use


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