Experimental analysis of the effect of forest litter cover on surface soil water dynamics under continuous rainless condition in North China

Ziqiang Xing, Denghua Yan, Daoyuan Wang, Shanshan Liu, Guoqiang Dong


The forest ecosystem provides fundamental eco-hydrological functions, such as water retention capacity; while the ecohydrological role of litter layer is often under-appreciated in forest systems. In this study, the effects of forest litter cover on surface soil moisture (θw) and soil water evaporation (Es) under continuous rainless condition in Northern China were evaluated using the micro-lysimeters method. Five experimental groups were settled: the micro-lysimeters covered by Black locust litter /Chinese pine litter with the litter mass of 7.03 kg/m2 (BL-I /CL-I for short separately), those covered by Black locust litter /Chinese pine litter with the litter mass of 10.54 kg/m2 (BL-II /CL-II for short separately), and the control group (CG for short). The results indicated that: (1) The soil moisture of control group was less than that of treatment groups throughout the whole experiment period, indicating that the litter layer has a significant effect on the soil water retention capacity. While this effect is insignificantly influenced by the forest leaf litter types / litter mass. (2) The hourly soil water evaporation rates of all experimental groups showed the inverted “U” curve at the beginning of the experiment, but there were significant differences in the amount of hourly soil water evaporation rates and the occurrence time of maximum hourly soil water evaporation between the control group and the treatment groups. (3) The average diurnal soil water evaporation of treatment groups were less than 50% of that of control group during the first 9 days; while it was more than 2 times of that of control group
during the 11th day to the 30th day. This result indicated that the diurnal soil water evaporation was mainly influenced by the meteorological factors when the soil moisture was greater than 1/2 of the field capacity. These results highlight the ecological services function of litter layer in forest systems, and it makes a more prominent role in forest management in Northern China.


Forest Litter ; Soil Water Dynamic ; Continuous Rainless ; North China

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