Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) is known to respond to increases in precipitation with increased radial growth even when rooted in continuously saturated sediments where water is not a growth-limiting factor. Measurements of δ18O, Cl−, 3H and hydraulic head in surface water and shallow groundwater in an oxbow lake-wetland in northern Mississippi show that rapid downward flow of surface water into the root zone is initiated only after precipitation-induced increases in surface water depth exceed a threshold value. Rapid flow of surface water through the root zone has the potential to introduce oxygen to sediments that would otherwise be anoxic, facilitating nutrient uptake and growth. Climatic reconstruction using tree rings from bald cypress in this environment appears possible because increases in precipitation generally correlate well with increases in water level, which in turn enhances the delivery of oxygenated water to the roots.
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