Abstract

Stemflow is known as a highly localized point input of rainwater and solutes around tree/shrub bases where roots are concentrated, thus having considerable effects on hydrology and biogeochemistry of vegetated ecosystems. Stemflow shows a pronounced inter-specific variation due to morphological differences among species, while the intra-specific variation of stemflow has been poorly explored. We systematically examined the effects of shrub morphological metrics on intra-specific funnelling efficiencies by quantifying the stemflow of nine shrubs of Caragana korshinskii within a water-limited arid desert ecosystem of northern China. Stemflow volume was used to compare the absolute amount of stemflow generated by shrubs of varying size, and funnelling ratio was used to assess their funnelling efficiencies. Both rainfall depth and shrub morphological metrics significantly affected stemflow volume, while funnelling ratio was more associated with shrub morphology. Under the same rainfall condition, smaller shrubs produced lower volumes of stemflow, while gaining access to rainfall via higher funnelling ratio than larger shrubs. Our findings highlight a large variation in funnelling efficiency among individual shrubs within the same species, and in particular, smaller shrubs might profit more from sporadic small rainfall events than larger shrubs.

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