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Journal of Arid Land  2014, Vol. 6 Issue (5): 592-600    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-014-0005-9
Research Articles     
Hydrogen isotopic composition of plant leaf wax in response to soil moisture in an arid ecosystem of the northeast Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China
Yuan YAO1,2, WeiGuo LIU1,2*
1 School of Human Settlements and Civil Engineering, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi'an 710049, China;
2 State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an 710075, China
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Abstract  The hydrogen isotopic composition of plant leaf wax (δDwax) is used as an important tool for paleohydrologic reconstruction. However, the understanding of the relative importance of environmental and biological factors in determining δDwax values still remains incomplete. To identify the effects of soil moisture and plant physiology on δDwax values in an arid ecosystem, and to explore the implication of these values for paleoclimatic reconstruction, we measured δD values of soil water (δDwater) and δDwax values in surface soils along two distance transects extending from the lakeshore to wetland to dryland around Lake Qinghai and Lake Gahai on the north¬east Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. The results showed that the δDwater values were negatively correlated with soil water content (SWC) (R2=0.9166), and ranged from –67‰ to –46‰ with changes in SWC from 6.2% to 42.1% in the arid areas of the Gangcha (GCh) and Gahai (GH) transects. This indicated that evaporative D-enrichment in soil water was sensitive to soil moisture in an arid ecosystem. Although the shift from grasses to shrubs with increasing aridity occurred in the arid area of the GH transect, the δDwax values in surface soils from the arid areas of the two transects still showed a negative correlation with SWC (R2=0.6835), which may be due to the controls of primary evaporative D-enrichment in the soil water and additional transpirational D-enrichment in the leaf water on the δDwax values. Our preliminary research suggested that δDwax values can potentially be applied as a paleo-humidity indicator on the northeast Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.

Key wordssurface water temperature (SWT)      spatial-temporal changes      MODIS      Qinghai Lake     
Received: 23 July 2013      Published: 12 October 2014

The National Basic Research Program of China (2013CB955901) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41073018).

Corresponding Authors: WeiGuo LIU     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Yuan YAO, WeiGuo LIU. Hydrogen isotopic composition of plant leaf wax in response to soil moisture in an arid ecosystem of the northeast Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2014, 6(5): 592-600.

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