Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2010, Vol. 20 ›› Issue (2): 261-272.doi: 10.1007/s11442-010-0261-3

• Water Resources • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Ecological water demand of natural vegetation in the lower Tarim River

YE Zhaoxia, CHEN Yaning, LI Weihong   

  1. Key Laboratory of Oasis Ecology and Desert Environment, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, CAS, Urumqi 830011, China
  • Received:2009-01-08 Revised:2009-02-28 Online:2010-04-15 Published:2010-04-15
  • Contact: Chen Yaning, Professor, E-mail:
  • About author:Ye Zhaoxia (1978?), Ph.D, specialized in the field of eco-hydrology. E-mail:
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.90502004; Knowledge Innovation Project of the CAS, No.KZCX2-YW-Q10-3-4, No.KZCX2-YW-Q10-3


We have appraised the relationships between soil moisture, groundwater depth, and plant species diversity in the lower reaches of the Tarim River in western China, by analyzing field data from 25 monitoring wells across eight study sites and 25 permanent vegetation survey plots. It is noted that groundwater depth, soil moisture and plant species diversity are closely related. It has been proven that the critical phreatic water depth is five meters in the lower reaches of the Tarim River. We acquired the mean phreatic evaporation of different groundwater levels every month by averaging the two results of phreatic evaporation using the Qunk and Averyanov formulas. Based on different vegetation types and acreage with different groundwater depth, the total ecological water demand (EWD) of natural vegetation in 2005 was 2.4×108 m3 in the lower reaches of the Tarim River. Analyzing the monthly EWD, we found that the EWD in the growth season (from April to September) is 81% of the year’s total EWD. The EWD in May, June and July was 47% of the year’s total EWD, which indicates the best time for dispensing artificial water. This research aims at realizing the sustainable development of water resources and provides a scientific basis for water resource management and sound collocation of the Tarim River Basin.

Key words: ecological water demand, natural vegetation, eco-hydrological processes, Tarim River