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Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Hydrogen isotopic composition of plant leaf wax in response to soil moisture in an arid ecosystem of the northeast Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China

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 northeast 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.

Keywords

hydrogen isotope; D-enrichment; soil water content; northeast Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

First Page

592

Last Page

600

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