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Riparian Ecology

Dr. Jacquelyn Duke

The role of vegetated riparian buffers in terms of reducing upslope inputs into streams is well characterized. However, research conducted at Baylor indicates a secondary function of riparian corridor related to indirect extraction of streamwater under specific conditions. Woody plant growth adjacent to perennial streams decrease soil water relative to stream elevations thus inducing lateral flow of water into banks during drought periods. Investigation of tree physiology utilizing thermal dissipation probes and isotopic measurement of tree cores coupled with detailed soil, ground, and stream water information paint a picture of a complex water budget in which trees take up water from streams. This invites future work on whether woody material may reflect past water pollutant materials such as pesticide and pharmaceutical compounds for which the flux and concentration may be extracted from current research.