• Strategy

Deciduous trees produce more soil water: oaks


Dead oak / Juan de Vojn.. / LicenseCC-by - Attribution

The branches of oak trees allow more water to reach the soil and seep into streams due to seasonal leaf loss, resulting in bare branches.

"Will any forest tree work the same on a given site? Are trees completely interchangeable? The questions hinged on whether trees vary in their capacity for water interception and transpiration. To get answers, loggers clear-cut mature hardwood forests of native oak and hickory in two watersheds in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, then replanted them with white pine seedlings. By 1973. when the pines had filled out their canopies, those two watersheds were yielding 20 percent less streamflow than equivalent catchments still forested by hardwoods…transpiration and evaporative losses from pines are greater because this species retains most of its needles year-round. In contrast, the dormant hardwoods stand leafless through the fall and winter, and their bare trunks and branches allow more rain to reach the soil and seep to the streams…the conversion of just sixteen hectares of forest from oak-hickory to pines cost 23 million liters in lost water in a single year." (Baskin 1997:85)
About the inspiring organism
Med_800pxdead_oak2c_may_20072c_podolany_nature_reserve2c_poland Quercus

Learn more at EOL.org
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Increasing water yield from forests, especially forests that have been converted from hardwoods to coniferous.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Water management, ecosystem restoration

Baskin, Y. 1997. The Work of Nature: How The Diversity Of Life Sustains Us. Island Press.
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