Abstract

The primary objective of this study was to assess the impact of two grassland soils and precipitation regimes on soil-moisture dynamics. We set up an experiment in a greenhouse and monitored the soil moisture dynamics in mesocosms planted with Avena barbata, an annual species found in California grasslands. By repeating the precipitation input at regular intervals, we were able to observe plant manipulation of soil moisture during well-defined periods during the growing season. We found that the amount of water partitioned to evapotranspiration, seepage, and soil storage varied among different growth stages. Furthermore, both soil type and precipitation regime had a significant impact on redistributing soil moisture. Whereas in the low-precipitation treatments most water was released to the atmosphere as evapotranspiration, major losses from the high-precipitation treatment occurred as gravity drainage. Observations from this study emphasize the importance of understanding intraseasonal relationships between vegetation, soil, and water.

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