First Advisor

Samantha Hartzell

Date of Award

Fall 12-9-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Civil Engineering and University Honors


Civil and Environmental Engineering




Hydraulic Redistribution, Ecohydrology, Dryland Hydrology


Water scarcity and soil salinity are dual stressors for plants in arid, salt-affected ecosystems. Hydraulic redistribution, a hydraulic adaptation which moves water through plant roots into dry or saline soil regions along potential gradients, aids plant survival in stressful environments. Recent theory regarding hydraulic redistribution proposes limitations on the process within saline soils. This study applies a minimalist resistor-capacitor model of the soil-plant-atmosphere system to the experimental conditions of a 2010 study investigating hydraulic redistribution in a salt affected area. The effectiveness of the model is evaluated, and a sensitivity analysis is conducted to identify key dynamics affecting the moisture redistribution process. The results indicate that a minimalist model faces limitations when testing the theoretical restrictions on redistribution in saline soil, but certain variables, particularly salt accumulation in the plant, can be predicted with reasonable accuracy. Recent studies on the plant represented by the model, P. lentiscus, show agreement with the model predictions, indicating that the experimental conditions are well-captured, and that salt accumulation in plant leaves would be unlikely to impede hydraulic redistribution. Discussion on model limitations and the need for greater internal complexity in the plant component is provided to improve future investigations into salinity-based restriction mechanisms on moisture redistribution through plant roots.