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Effects of hillslope position on soil water infiltration and preferential flow in tropical forest in southwest China

First Author: Chen CF

The hillslope is an essential natural spatial gradient that influences hydrological processes by affecting water distribution, surface flow, soil erosion, and groundwater recharge. To date, few studies have addressed only the hydrological processes of tropical forest hillslopes. To reveal the effect of hillslope on soil hydrological functioningincluding water distribution and exchange, infiltration capacity, and flow behaviorwe conducted 36 field infiltration and nine dye-tracer investigations of different hillslope locations in the natural rainforest of Xishuangbanna, southwest China. The soil physical propertiesincluding soil noncapillary and total porosity, saturated water capacity, and field water capacitydecreased with decreasing elevation from hilltop to middle slope and the valley bottom. The water infiltration capacityincluding the initial infiltration rate, saturated soil hydraulic conductivity, and average infiltration rate decreased from the hilltop to the valley bottom. Preferential flow dominated soil water movement more in the upper locations than in the valley bottom. The infiltration capacity parameters and preferential flow were significantly correlated with soil water content, noncapillary and total porosity, root biomass, and termite holes. These results indicated that along with the soil physical properties, root systems, animal activity, cracks, and stones affected the soil infiltration capacity and preferential flow. Differences in the hydraulic processes of each hillslope position contributed to the redistribution, transportation, and storage of surface and belowground water, resulting in differing availabilities of soil water resources and utilization by plants. The findings of this study can help understand eco-hydrological processes in the context of water resources management in tropical mountain ecosystems.

Contact the author: Chen CF; Jiang XJ; Liu WJ
Page Number: 113672
Impact Factor: 6.789
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PubYear: Sep 2021
Volume: 299
Publication Name: Journal of Environmental Management
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