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《Acta Ecologica Sinica》 2013-04
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Concepts,processes and quantification methods of the forest water conservation at the multiple scales

WANG Xiaoxue1,3,SHEN Huitao2,LI Xuyong1,*,JING Feng4 1 State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology,Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences,Chinese Academy of Sciences,Beijing 100085,China 2 Center for Agricultural Resources Research,Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology,Chinese Academy of Sciences,Shijiazhuang 050021,China 3 Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences;Beijing 100049,China 4 China International Engineering Consulting Corporation,Beijing 100048,China  
Forest water conservation as an important ecosystem function has caused a rising interests in the scientific community in recent years.However,there remain some arguments in several aspects regarding the forest water conservation function.For the concept of the forest water conservation,there is no clear definition about its connotation.Another concern is the scaling issue.It is a challenge to scale up the estimation for the forest water conservation from the plot scale to larger scale,e.g.,watershed scale or regional scale.Many quantification methods have been developed,but their suitability,performance,advantages and disadvantages are unknown.Many of such argument issues are significant limits of the forest water conservation in science and management.On the basis of the literature review,we clarify the important role of the water conservation in forest ecosystem function.We also summarize and analyze the concepts of the forest water conservation and its multi-scale connotation,processes and quantification methods.On the spatial scale,function of the forest in mitigating peak flow is effective at a smaller scale but not necessarily at a larger scale.More groundwater recharges into stream flow when forest soil infiltration exceeds evapotranspiration,thus increasing stream flow in the dry season.During a rainfall event,forest water conservation has different features at different temporal scales.For example,the amount of the forest conservation during a rainfall event dominates by the forest canopy interception and most water is stored in the forest due to less evapotranspiration in the rainfall event scale.At the longer temporal scale,the forest water conservation can be determined by the forest canopy interception subtracting evapotranspiration.The functional roles of the forest water conservation at longer temporal scale dominate by purifying water from natural rainfall and mitigating seasonal flow peaks of the river discharges.Most previous studies of the forest water conservation focused on water storage function at the plot scale,but lack better understanding in the forest water conservation function at the watershed or regional scales.We suggest the approach that combines downscaling from the regional to watershed scales and upscaling from the hillside to the watershed scales can an effective way of the scale extrapolation.This idea can be used to address the heterogeneity issue of the forest water conservation function at different spatio-temporal scales.Among the existing quantification approaches of the forest water conservation function,each one highly relies on the temporal and spatial scales and its application goal.An appropriate calculation method should be carefully evaluated and considered based on the objectives,data availability,temporal and spatial scales of each study case.The suitability difference in different calculation methods of the forest water conservation demonstrates the complexity and importance of the multi-scale consideration in forest hydrological processes.In the context of the long-term debates about the relationship between the forest and water,we figure out a few confusing points in the current studies of the forest water conservation function.We also propose the critical scientific questions that should be addressed and a few directions in future studies of forest water conservation function including: 1) to clearly define the connotation and boundary of the forest water conservation function,and develop innovatory methods for determining the forest water conservation function;2) to pay more attentions on the forest water conservation function studies associated with the different spatial and temporal scales,including evaluation of the spatio-temporal variations in forest water conservation function,the scaling effects on estimation of the water conservation function,the trade-off relationship between the upstream forest water conservation and the downstream ecological water need,and the development of the innovatory ways of forest water conservation practices.
【Fund】: 国家重点基础研究发展规划项目计划课题(2009CB421104);; 中国科学院国际合作创新团队项目(KZCX2-YW-T13)
【CateGory Index】: S718.5
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