Spatio-temporal variation in soil moisture plays an important role in hydrological and ecological processes. In the present study, we investigated the effect of environmental factors on variation in soil moisture at a hillslope scale. The relationships among various environmental factors, including soil properties, topographic indices, and vegetation of a humid forest hillslope, and soil moisture distributions were evaluated based on soil moisture data collected at 18 sampling locations over three seasons (spring, rainy, and autumn) at depths of 10, 30, and 60 cm. In order to evaluate the multi-dimensional data sets without the interaction among factors, the principal component regression (PCR) model was applied to identify the factors controlling the spatio-temporal variation in soil moisture. The effects on soil texture and topography were significant in spring. In addition, clay and sand appeared as critical control factors for the study area in all seasons. The transitional control patterns in the soil moisture profile indicated that the control varied depending on features, such as total amount, intensity, and duration, of rainfall events in spring and during the rainy season. The transitional control pattern for autumn showed that vegetation and local slope controlled transitions in topography.

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