Correlating hydrologic reinforcement of vegetated soil with plant traits during establishment of woody perennials

David Boldrin, Anthony Leung (Lead / Corresponding author), Anthony Bengough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)
322 Downloads (Pure)


Background and aims: Vegetation stabilizes slopes via root mechanical reinforcement and hydrologic reinforcement induced by transpiration. Most studies have focused on mechanical reinforcement and its correlation with plant biomechanical traits. The correlations however generally ignore the effects of hydrologic reinforcement. This study aims to quantify the hydrologic reinforcement associated with ten woody species and identify correlations with relevant plant traits.

Methods: Ten species widespread in Europe, which belong to Aquifoliaceae, Betulaceae, Buxaceae, Celastraceae, Fabaceae, Oleaceae and Salicaceae families, were planted in pots of sandy loam soil. Each planted pot was irrigated and then left to transpire. Soil strength, matric suction and plant traits were measured.

Results: Transpiration-induced suction was linearly correlated with soil penetration resistance for the ten species due to their different transpiration rates i.e. both suction and soil penetration resistance induced by Hazel and Blackthorn (deciduous) were five times greater than those by Holly and European Box (evergreens). Specific leaf area and root length density correlated with hydrologic reinforcement. The root:shoot ratio correlated best with the hydrologic reinforcement.

Conclusions: Specific leaf area, root length density and root:shoot ratio explained the tenfold differences in hydrologic reinforcement provided by the ten different species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-451
Number of pages16
JournalPlant and Soil
Early online date24 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • Hydrologic reinforcement
  • Matric suction
  • Soil bioengineering
  • Soil strength
  • Transpiration


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