Source Water Apportionment Using Stable Isotopes for Typical Riparian Plants along the Manas River in Xinjiang, Northwest China
Clarifying the water uptake patterns and competition among riparian plants under different ecological water conveyance conditions is crucial for the stability of the riparian ecosystem in arid areas. Here, we have utilized the Bayesian isotope mixing model to quantify the plant water sources for two typical riparian plants (Tamarix ramosissima and Phragmites australis) along the Manas River in Xinjiang, Northwest China. The water competition relationship between these two typical riparian plants is evaluated using the proportional similarity index (PSI). Our findings demonstrated the following: (1) The climate in the study area is dry and strongly evaporative, and the slope and intercept of the local meteoric water line are smaller than the global meteoric water line. The interconversion between surface water and groundwater occurred mainly in the upper reaches of the river. (2) At the sample site with the long-term ecological water conveyance, the water uptake pattern for typical riparian plants is predominantly shallow soil water or the uniform use of potential water sources. Among them, the utilization rate of shallow soil water reached 30.7 ± 12.6%. At sample sites with intermittent ecological water conveyance and the non-ecological water conveyance sample site, the growth of T. ramosissima and P. australis primarily uses deep soil water and groundwater, with mean values of 34.5 ± 5.1% and 32.2 ± 1.9%, respectively. (3) The water competition between plants at the intermittent ecological water conveyance and non-ecological water conveyance sample sites was more intense. However, the long-term ecological water conveyance effectively reduced water competition among plants. Our results will provide basic theoretical support for maintaining the stability of the Manas River riparian ecosystem and determining environmental flows.