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Journal of Arid Land  2018, Vol. 10 Issue (6): 821-832    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0069-z
Research article     
Stable isotope analysis of water sources for Tamarix laxa in the mega-dunes of the Badain Jaran Desert, China
Jinhu ZHANG1,2, Nai'ang WANG1,*(), Zhenmin NIU1, Jie SUN1, Chunyu DONG3, LyuLyu ZHANG1
1 College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
2 State Key Laboratory Breeding Base of Gansu Desertification and Aeolian Sand Disaster Combating, Gansu Desert Control Research Institute, Lanzhou 730070, China
3 Department of Geography, University of California, California 90095, USA
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The complex interactions in desert ecosystems between functional types and environmental conditions could be reflected by plant water use patterns. However, the mechanisms underlying the water use patterns as well as the water sources of Tamarix laxa in the mega-dunes of the Badain Jaran Desert, China, remain unclear. This study investigated the water sources and water use patterns of T. laxa using the stable oxygen isotope method. The δ18O values of xylem water, soil water in different layers (0-200 cm), rainwater, snow water, lake water, atmospheric water vapor, condensate water, and groundwater were measured. The sources of water used by T. laxa were determined using the IsoSource model. The results indicate that T. laxa mainly relies on soil water. At the beginning of the growing season (in May), the species is primarily dependent on water from the middle soil layer (60-120 cm) and deep soil layer (120-200 cm). However, it mainly absorbs water from the shallow soil layer (0-60 cm) as the rainy season commences. In September, water use of T. laxa reverts to the deep soil layer (120-200 cm). The water use patterns of T. laxa are closely linked with heavy precipitation events and soil water content. These findings reveal the drought resistance mechanisms of T. laxa and are of significance for screening species for ecological restoration.

Key wordsstable oxygen isotope      water source      water use pattern      soil water      stem water      mega-dune      Tamarix laxa     
Received: 28 November 2017      Published: 07 November 2018
Corresponding Authors: Nai'ang WANG     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Jinhu ZHANG, Nai'ang WANG, Zhenmin NIU, Jie SUN, Chunyu DONG, LyuLyu ZHANG. Stable isotope analysis of water sources for Tamarix laxa in the mega-dunes of the Badain Jaran Desert, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(6): 821-832.

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