Skip to Main Content
A comparison of methods for determining soil water availability in two sites in Panama with similar rainfall but distinct tree communitiesAuthor(s): Thomas A. Kursar; Bettina M. J. Engelbrecht; Melvin T. Tyree
Source: Journal of Tropical Ecology 21:297-305
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northeastern Research Station
PDF: View PDF (1.21 MB)
DescriptionPlant productivity, distribution and diversity in tropical rain forests correlate with water availability. Water availability is determined by rainfall and also by the available water capacity of the soil. However, while rainfall is recognized as important, linkages between plant distribution and differences among soils in available water capacity have not been demonstrated. One reason for this may be that measurements of soil moisture, such as gravimetric water content, may be overly simplistic. To investigate this, we compared two sites in Panama, Allee and Rio Paja, which have similar rainfall but different plant communities. Soil water release curves were obtained from about - 0.1 MPa to - 9 MPa , permitting us to calculate available water capacity. The Rio Paja site had 17% greater available water capacity (between - 0.1 MPa to - 3 MPa), whereas the gravimetric water content at Rio Paja was lower by 16% in rainy season and by 41% at the end of the dry season. Hence soil gravimetric water content and soil available water capacity did not correspond. The results suggest that available water capacity may better predict plant distributions. Hence, whenever possible, available water capacity should be determined in addition to gravimetric water content.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, firstname.lastname@example.org if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationKursar, Thomas A.; Engelbrecht, Bettina M. J.; Tyree, Melvin T. 2005. A comparison of methods for determining soil water availability in two sites in Panama with similar rainfall but distinct tree communities. Journal of Tropical Ecology 21:297-305
Keywordsdistribution, diversity, drought, edaphic, matric potential, Panama, productivity, soil texture
- Roles of weathered bedrock and soil in seasonal water relations of Pinus Jeffreyi and Arctostaphylos patula
- Drought until death do us part: a case study of the desiccation-tolerance of a tropical moist forest seedling-tree, Licania platypus (Hemsl.) Fritsch
- Soil water availability and rooting depth as determinants of hydraulic architecture of Patagonian woody species
XML: View XML