The water use rates of reedbed and wet woodland habitats
To create hydrologically sustainable wetlands, knowledge of the water use requirements of target habitats must be known. Extensive literature reviews highlighted a dearth of water-use data associated with large reedbeds and wet woodland habitats and in response to this field experiments were established. Field experiments to measure the water use rates of large reedbeds [ET(Reed)] were completed at three sites within the UK. Reference Crop Evapotranspiration [ETo] was calculated and mean monthly crop coefficients [Kc(Reed)] were developed. Kc(Reed) was less than 1 during the growing season (March to September), ranging between 0.22 in March and reaching a peak of 0.98 in June. The developed coefficients compare favourably with published data from other large reedbed systems and support the premise that the water use of large reedbeds is lower than that from small/fringe reedbeds. A methodology for determining water use rates from wet woodland habitats (UK NVC Code: W6) is presented, in addition to provisional ET(W6) rates for two sites in the UK. Reference Crop Evapotranspiration [ETo] data was used to develop Kc(W6) values which ranged between 0.89 (LV Lysimeter 1) and 1.64 (CH Lysimeter 2) for the period March to September. The data are comparable with relevant published data and show that the water use rates of wet woodland are higher than most other wetland habitats. Initial observations suggest that water use is related to the habitat’s establishment phase and the age and size of the canopy tree species. A theoretical case study presents crop coefficients associated with wetland habitats and provides an example water budget for the creation of a wetland comprising a mosaic of wetland habitats. The case study shows the critical role that the water use of wetland habitats plays within a water budget.