Hydrographs from shallow wells in vegetated riparian zones frequently display a distinctive pattern of diurnal water table fluctuations produced by variations in plant water use. A multisite investigation assessed the major controls on these fluctuations and the ecohydrologic insights that can be gleaned from them. Spatial and temporal variations in the amplitude of the fluctuations are primarily a function of variations in (1) the meteorological drivers of plant water use, (2) vegetation density, type, and vitality, and (3) the specific yield of sediments in the vicinity of the water table. Past hydrologic conditions experienced by the riparian zone vegetation, either in previous years or earlier within the same growing season, are also an important control. Diurnal water table fluctuations can be considered a diagnostic indicator of groundwater consumption by phreatophytes at most sites, so the information embedded within these fluctuations should be more widely exploited in ecohydrologic studies. Copyright 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.
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A field investigation of phreatophyte-induced fluctuations in the water table