Dryland plants: their effects as 'ecosystem engineers' and “infiltration managers”
Convener: David Dunkerley  | Co-Conveners: Artemi Cerdà , Xinping Wang , Melissa Neave 
Oral Programme
 / Fri, 07 May, 15:30–17:00  / Room 8
Poster Programme
 / Attendance Fri, 07 May, 13:30–15:00  / Halls X/Y

This session considers two related topics: (1) methods for measuring the infiltrability of soils, and (2) the role of dryland plants as 'ecosystem engineers'. One of the principal ecohydrological effects of dryland plants is their modification of soil infiltrability. Both this role, and the measurement of soil infiltrability more generally, have been explored using a range of methods including ponded infiltrometry and simulated rain on small plots. This session will therefore bring together work on the measurement of soil infiltrability properties and on the diverse effects of dryland plants on their local environment. Challenges for measurement of soil hydraulic properties are manifold in the drylands, and include local textural and compositional change over short spatial scales, as well as marked variability in the size and abundance of biopores. Finally, dryland soils are often sealed or carry one of several forms of crust, which pose additional challenges for the meaningful quantification of the controls on soil water uptake. The session will provide an opportunity for researchers from various related fields to share their expertise and experiences of working with soil hydraulic and other properties, especially those of the drylands.