Short Communication

Soil water retention curves for the major soil types of the Kruger National Park

Robert Buitenwerf, Andrew Kulmatiski, Steven I. Higgins
Koedoe | Vol 56, No 1 | a1228 | DOI: | © 2014 Robert Buitenwerf, Andrew Kulmatiski, Steven I. Higgins | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 March 2014 | Published: 10 November 2014

About the author(s)

Robert Buitenwerf, Institut für Physische Geographie, Goethe Universität Frankfurt, Germany
Andrew Kulmatiski, Department of Plants, Soils and Climate and the Ecology Center, Utah State University, United States
Steven I. Higgins, Department of Botany, University of Otago, New Zealand; Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, Germany

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Soil water potential is crucial to plant transpiration and thus to carbon cycling and biosphere–atmosphere interactions, yet it is difficult to measure in the field. Volumetric and gravimetric water contents are easy and cheap to measure in the field, but can be a poor proxy of plant-available water. Soil water content can be transformed to water potential using soil moisture retention curves. We provide empirically derived soil moisture retention curves for seven soil types in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. Site-specific curves produced excellent estimates of soil water potential from soil water content values. Curves from soils derived from the same geological substrate were similar, potentially allowing for the use of one curve for basalt soils and another for granite soils. It is anticipated that this dataset will help hydrologists and ecophysiologists understand water dynamics, carbon cycling and biosphere–atmosphere interactions under current and changing climatic conditions in the region.


Soil water retention curve; Kruger National Park,


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1. Modelling Water Uptake Provides a New Perspective on Grass and Tree Coexistence
Michael G. Mazzacavallo, Andrew Kulmatiski, Matthew Germino
PLOS ONE  vol: 10  issue: 12  first page: e0144300  year: 2015  
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0144300