Abstract

Understanding the effects of vegetation on soil moisture is vital to the ecosystem restoration in water-restricted areas. For this study, the effects of introduced revegetation and natural revegetation on soil water (0–1.8 m) were investigated in the Chinese Loess Plateau, which was based on an in situ vegetation removal experiment and two years of soil moisture monitoring. The results indicated that under introduced revegetation, pasture grassland had lower soil moisture but higher temporal variations over the growing season. Compared with abandoned farmlands and native grasslands under natural revegetation, pasture grasslands revealed greater negative effects on deep soil moisture (1–1.8 m), which was difficult to recover following soil desiccation. In contrast, for abandoned farmlands and native grasslands, the surface soil moisture (0–0.4 m) was mainly impacted, which was easily replenished through rainfall events. These outcomes implied that natural revegetation, rather than introduced revegetation, should be the first choice in water-limited regions toward the rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems.

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