Dr. Hahm's research has been published online

October 26, 2020
Print

Dr. William Jesse Hahm's recently accepted publication has now been published online: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2020WR027419

Abstract: The spatiotemporal dynamics of plant water sources are hidden and poorly understood. We document water source use of Quercus garryana growing in Northern California on a profile of ca. 50 cm of soil underlain by 2‐4 m of weathered bedrock (sheared shale mélange) that completely saturates in winter, when the oaks lack leaves, and progressively dries over the summer. We determined oak water sources by combining observations of water stable isotope composition, vadose zone moisture and groundwater dynamics, and metrics of tree water status (potential) and use (sapflow). During the spring, oak xylem water is isotopically similar to the seasonal groundwater and shallow, evaporatively enriched soil moisture pools. However, as soils dry and the water table recedes to the permanently saturated, anoxic, low conductivity fresh bedrock boundary, Q. garryana shifts to using a water source with a depleted isotopic composition that matches residual moisture in the deep soil and underlying weathered bedrock vadose zone. Sapflow rates remain high as late summer pre‐dawn water potentials drop below ‐2.5 MPa. Neutron‐probe surveys reveal late summer rock moisture declines under the oaks in contrast to constant rock moisture levels under grass‐dominated areas. We therefore conclude that the oaks temporarily use seasonal groundwater when it occupies the weathered profile, but otherwise use deep unsaturated zone moisture after seasonal groundwater recedes. The ample moisture, connected porosity, and oxygenated conditions of the weathered bedrock vadose zone make it a key tree water resource during the long summer dry season of the local Mediterranean climate.