Water, climate, and vegetation: ecohydrology in a changing world
Ecohydrology has advanced rapidly in the past few decades. A search of the topic “ecohydrology” in the Web of Science showed an exponential growth of both publications and citations. The number of publications and citations increased from 7 and 6, respectively in 2000 to 65 and 1262 by 26 November 2012 (Fig. 1). Even with slightly different focus and definitions among scientists, ecohydrology is essentially a science dealing with the interactions between ecological and hydrological processes (e.g. Kundzewicz, 2002). Different from traditional hydrology, ecohydrology focuses more on the “eco-” component. Many recent ecohydrological studies have focused on the climate–soil–vegetation interactions in natural ecosystems (e.g. Rodriguez-Iturbe, 2000; D’Odorico et al., 2010; Miller et al., 2012). Changes in natural (e.g. droughts and floods) and anthropogenic (e.g. land use changes and population growth) drivers will undoubtedly affect hydrological cycles and water availability in all natural and managed ecosystems (Jackson et al., 2009). A better understanding of mechanism and consequence of changes in hydrological processes on ecosystems and societies will increase our ability to develop effective adaptation strategies to minimize the adverse effects of hydrological alternations (Vose et al., 2011). Ecohydrological science in both natural and human-dominated landscapes is therefore needed to help solve many of the immediate needs of modern environmental and resource issues, especially water and food shortages (Liu and Yang, 2010). We foresee that ecohydrologists will be increasingly called upon to address questions regarding vegetation and climate changes and their influence on water security at a range of spatial and temporal scales in the future.
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