J Plant Ecol ›› 2011, Vol. 4 ›› Issue (1-2): 3-22.DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtr005

• Review Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Ecohydrological advances and applications in plant-water relations research: a review

Heidi Asbjornsen1,*, Gregory R. Goldsmith2, Maria S. Alvarado-Barrientos1, Karin Rebel3, Floortje P. Van Osch3, Max Rietkerk3, Jiquan Chen4, Sybil Gotsch1, Conrado Tobón5, Daniel R. Geissert6, Alberto Gómez-Tagle7, Kellie Vache8 and Todd E. Dawson2   

  1. 1 Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, USA; 2 Department of Integrative Biology, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA; 3 Department of Environmental Sciences, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, Utrecht 3508TC, The Netherlands; 4 Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Toledo, OH 43606, USA; 5 Department of Forest Sciences, National University of Colombia, Medellín, Colombia; 6 Department of Functional Ecology, Institute of Ecology, Xalapa 91070, Mexico; 7 Department of Earth Sciences, University of Michoaca′n, Morelia, Michoaca′n 58330, Mexico; 8 Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
  • Received:2011-11-23 Accepted:2011-01-12 Published:2011-03-12
  • Contact: Asbjornsen, Heidi

Abstract: Aims The field of ecohydrology is providing new theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches for understanding the complex interactions and feedbacks between vegetation and hydrologic flows at multiple scales. Here we review some of the major scientific and technological advances in ecohydrology as related to understanding the mechanisms by which plant–water relations influence water fluxes at ecosystem, watershed and landscape scales.
Important findings We identify several cross-cutting themes related to the role of plant–water relations in the ecohydrological literature, including the contrasting dynamics of water-limited and water-abundant ecosystems, transferring information about water fluxes across scales, understanding spatiotemporal heterogeneity and complexity, ecohydrological triggers associated with threshold behavior and shifts between alternative stable states and the need for long-term data sets at multiple scales. We then show how these themes are embedded within three key research areas where improved understanding of the linkages between plant–water relations and the hydrologic cycle have led to important advances in the field of ecohydrology: upscaling water fluxes from the leaf to the watershed and landscape, effects of plant–soil interactions on soil moisture dynamics and controls exerted by plant water use patterns and mechanisms on streamflow regime. In particular, we highlight several pressing environmental challenges facing society today where ecohydrology can contribute to the scientific knowledge for developing sound management and policy solutions. We conclude by identifying key challenges and opportunities for advancing contributions of plant–water relations research to ecohydrology in the future.

Key words: ecohydrology, plant water use, regime shift, thresholds, scaling, transpiration

摘要:
Aims The field of ecohydrology is providing new theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches for understanding the complex interactions and feedbacks between vegetation and hydrologic flows at multiple scales. Here we review some of the major scientific and technological advances in ecohydrology as related to understanding the mechanisms by which plant–water relations influence water fluxes at ecosystem, watershed and landscape scales.
Important findings We identify several cross-cutting themes related to the role of plant–water relations in the ecohydrological literature, including the contrasting dynamics of water-limited and water-abundant ecosystems, transferring information about water fluxes across scales, understanding spatiotemporal heterogeneity and complexity, ecohydrological triggers associated with threshold behavior and shifts between alternative stable states and the need for long-term data sets at multiple scales. We then show how these themes are embedded within three key research areas where improved understanding of the linkages between plant–water relations and the hydrologic cycle have led to important advances in the field of ecohydrology: upscaling water fluxes from the leaf to the watershed and landscape, effects of plant–soil interactions on soil moisture dynamics and controls exerted by plant water use patterns and mechanisms on streamflow regime. In particular, we highlight several pressing environmental challenges facing society today where ecohydrology can contribute to the scientific knowledge for developing sound management and policy solutions. We conclude by identifying key challenges and opportunities for advancing contributions of plant–water relations research to ecohydrology in the future.