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Keywords:

  • biogeochemical cycles;
  • hydraulic lift;
  • hydraulic redistribution (HR);
  • hydrology;
  • mechanisms;
  • nutrient cycling;
  • plant interactions;
  • root properties

Contents

 Summary830
I.Introduction830
II.Mechanisms controlling HR832
III.Below-ground processes affected by HR833
IV.Ecological implications of HR835
V.Concluding remarks838
 Acknowledgements839
 References839

Summary

Hydraulic redistribution (HR) is the passive movement of water between different soil parts via plant root systems, driven by water potential gradients in the soil–plant interface. New data suggest that HR is a heterogeneous and patchy process. In this review we examine the main biophysical and environmental factors controlling HR and its main implications at the plant, community and ecosystem levels. Experimental evidence and the use of novel modelling approaches suggest that HR may have important implications at the community scale, affecting net primary productivity as well as water and vegetation dynamics. Globally, HR may influence hydrological and biogeochemical cycles and, ultimately, climate.