Hydrologic Modeling in Oak Woodland Soilscapes
In the next few years, one of the most challenging issues in science will be water quality and consequently watershed management. Along with savanna, oak woodlands cover 3 million ha in California watersheds (Griffin 1977) and are therefore, an important component of California landscapes. Although these ecosystems have been studied, there are many areas that are not well understood. One of these areas is the correlation between soil moisture distribution and the water balance.
We will monitor soil moisture at different soil depths both beneath blue oak and in open grassland for two years to identify spatial and temporal dynamics of soil moisture influenced by blue oak canopies in an oak woodland watershed. To understand the spatial and temporal variability of the water balance, the different components will be quantified. Rainfall and infiltration will be measured. Evapotranspiration and runoff will be derived from data collected by a micrometeorological station and pre-installed flumes. Using x-ray computed tomography techniques we will also quantify soil macropores beneath blue oaks and in open grassland to have a better understanding of preferential water flow processes in these ecosystems.
Results of this project intend to identify the role that blue oak canopies are playing in soil water movement in order to provide better tools for watershed management. Thus, this project will give better answers to some questions that are still open. With this approach we hope better understand significant dynamics of water in this complex environment and provide tools that ecologists can use to identify differences between ecosystems, hydrologists better model this ecosystem and environmental scientists make meaningful predictions about the impacts that deflorestation are having in the climate change.