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No shift to a deeper water uptake depth in response to summer drought of two lowland and sub-alpine C₃-grasslands in Switzerland
JournalArticle (Originalarbeit in einer wissenschaftlichen Zeitschrift)
ID 3115338
Author(s) Prechsl, Ulrich E.; Burri, Susanne; Gilgen, Anna K.; Kahmen, Ansgar; Buchmann, Nina
Author(s) at UniBasel Kahmen, Ansgar
Year 2015
Title No shift to a deeper water uptake depth in response to summer drought of two lowland and sub-alpine C₃-grasslands in Switzerland
Journal Oecologia
Volume 177
Number 1
Pages / Article-Number 97-111
Keywords Precipitation manipulation experiment, Plant-water relations, Stable water isotopes, Bayesian calibrated mixing model, Root distribution

Temperate C3-grasslands are of high agricultural and ecological importance in Central Europe. Plant growth and consequently grassland yields depend strongly on water supply during the growing season, which is projected to change in the future. We therefore investigated the effect of summer drought on the water uptake of an intensively managed lowland and an extensively managed sub-alpine grassland in Switzerland. Summer drought was simulated by using transparent shelters. Standing above- and belowground biomass was sampled during three growing seasons. Soil and plant xylem waters were analyzed for oxygen (and hydrogen) stable isotope ratios, and the depths of plant water uptake were estimated by two different approaches: (1) linear interpolation method and (2) Bayesian calibrated mixing model. Relative to the control, aboveground biomass was reduced under drought conditions. In contrast to our expectations, lowland grassland plants subjected to summer drought were more likely (43-68%) to rely on water in the topsoil (0-10 cm), whereas control plants relied less on the topsoil (4-37%) and shifted to deeper soil layers (20-35 cm) during the drought period (29-48%). Sub-alpine grassland plants did not differ significantly in uptake depth between drought and control plots during the drought period. Both approaches yielded similar results and showed that the drought treatment in the two grasslands did not induce a shift to deeper uptake depths, but rather continued or shifted water uptake to even more shallower soil depths. These findings illustrate the importance of shallow soil depths for plant performance under drought conditions.

Publisher Springer
ISSN/ISBN 0029-8549
Full Text on edoc No
Digital Object Identifier DOI 10.1007/s00442-014-3092-6
PubMed ID
ISI-Number WOS:000347406500010
Document type (ISI) Article

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