Turnbull, Laura Department of Geography, Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom.
- Ecohydrology: the water balance, vegetation, and soil
- Ecohydrological feedbacks and nonlinear responses
- Application of ecohydrology to improve and manage ecosystems
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Ecosystems are complex structures whose form and function depend on many interrelated links between climate, vegetation, soil, and water. Ecohydrology seeks to understand these linkages by determining how hydrological processes influence the distribution, structure, and function of plant communities, and how feedbacks from plant communities, in turn, affect hydrological processes. Implicit in ecohydrology is the recognition that vegetation, water, soil, and nutrients are intimately coupled, and this is true in both natural and human-dominated systems. While ecohydrology is centered at the interface of ecology and hydrology, in practice, it is much broader, and incorporates biogeochemistry and soil-related processes. Ecohydrology thus facilitates the study of environmental systems in an integrated and holistic way, which is necessary to (1) predict how systems will respond to changes in climate and land use, and how feedbacks will in turn modify climate, and (2) determine how to best manage water-dependent ecosystems for the provision of freshwater resources and associated ecosystem services. The relatively recent focus on ecohydrology is founded on longer-term research trends in hydrology, ecology, biogeochemistry, and geomorphology, which have looked at interactions between vegetation and the water cycle as primary controls on ecosystems structure. An ecohydrological approach, however, enables exploration of reciprocal interactions, which would otherwise not be possible.
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