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Trees in seasonal climates may use water originating from both winter and summer precipitation. However, the seasonal origins of water used by trees have not been systematically studied. We used stable isotopes of water to compare the seasonal origins of water found in three common tree species across 24 Swiss forest sites sampled in two different years. Water from winter precipitation was observed in trees at most sites, even at the peak of summer, although the relative representation of seasonal sources differed by species. However, the representation of winter precipitation in trees decreased with site mean annual precipitation in both years; additionally, it was generally lower in the cooler and wetter year. Together, these relationships show that precipitation amount influenced the seasonal origin of water taken up by trees across both time and space. These results suggest higher turnover of the plant-available soil-water pool in wetter sites and wetter years.


This article was originally published in Geophysical Research Letters, volume 49, in 2022.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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