Land use affects evapotranspiration rates and is a primary driver of the catchment water balance. The water balance of two catchments in southeastern Australia dominated by either grazed pasture or blue gum ( Eucalyptus globulus) plantation was studied, focusing on the patterns of evapotranspiration (ET) throughout the year. Rainfall, streamflow, and groundwater levels measured between 2015-2019 were combined to estimate annual ET using a water balance equation. In the pasture, eddy covariance was used to measure ET from the catchment. Sap flow measurements were used to estimate tree transpiration in May 2017 – May 2018 and Feb 2019 – Feb 2021 in two different plots within the plantation. The tree transpiration rates were added to direct evaporation, estimated as a percentage of annual rainfall, to calculate ET from the plantation catchment. ET in the pasture showed strong seasonal cycles with very low ET rates in summer and ET rates in spring that were larger than the transpiration rates in the plantation, where trees transpired consistently throughout the year. The estimated annual ET from the water balance equation were comparable to ET estimated from other measurements. In the pasture, ET on average accounted for 88% of annual rainfall, while ET in the plantation was on average 93% of rainfall, exceeding it in the years with annual rainfall lower than 500 mm. The difference between the ET rates in the plantation and the pasture were approximately 30 to 50 mm y -1. The larger ET rates in the plantation are reflected in a gradual decrease in the groundwater storage. The differences in ET rates were thus enough to cause a decrease in groundwater storage in the plantation, while the groundwater levels in the pasture remained stable.
Improving the representation of plant hydraulic behavior in vegetation and land-surface models is critical for improving our predictions of the impacts of drought stress on ecosystem carbon and water fluxes. Species-specific hydraulic traits play an important role in determining the response of ecosystem carbon and water fluxes to water stress. Here, we present plans for the development of the Finite-difference Ecosystem-scale Tree Crown Hydrodynamics model version 3 (FETCH3), a tree hydrodynamic model which builds upon its predecessors FETCH and FETCH2. FETCH3 simulates water transport through the soil, roots, and xylem as flow through porous media. The model resolves water potentials along the vertical dimension, and stomatal response is linked to xylem water potential. The tree-level model is scaled to the plot scale based on the species composition and canopy structure of the plot, allowing the model to be validated using both tree-level observations (sap flux) and plot-level observations (eddy covariance). We will collect data from multiple sites that have both sap flux and eddy covariance measurements for analysis. The Predictive Ecosystem Analyzer (PEcAn) will be used for optimization of the hydraulic parameters in FETCH3 for different plant types in multiple sites. We plan to use this new modeling framework to examine the interactions among water stress, species-specific hydraulic strategies, and stomatal regulation across different species and ecosystem types.