Soil water repellency (SWR) is a cause of low water infiltration, overland flow and soil erosion in mountainous coniferous plantations in Japan. The factors determining SWR intensity were investigated in two coniferous plantations of Chamaecyparis obtusa (Siebold et Zucc.) Endl. and Cryptomeria japonica (L.f.) D. Don, using intact tree plots and cut tree plots on the same hillslope. The SWR of Ch. obtusa plots was stronger than that of Cr. japonica plots. SWR intensity decreased after tree cutting. There were no significant differences in SWR upslope and downslope of individual trees/stumps for both tree species, though areas downslope of individual Ch. obtusa trees had higher SWR intensity than those upslope. SWR intensity and soil aggregate stability were positively correlated in the Ch. obtusa intact tree plot (r = 0.88, p < 0.01), whereas in the cut tree plot, this correlation was weak with no significance (r = 0.29, p = 0.41). Soil aggregate size had a non-significant influence on SWR intensity. These findings suggest that SWR intensity was not related to the soil aggregate size, but SWR intensity seemed have a role in soil aggregation in the Ch. obtusa intact tree plot. Destruction of soil aggregates could occur after tree cutting because of physical disturbances or increased input of different types of organic matter from other vegetation into soil. The presence of Ch. obtusa introduces a source of SWR, although uncertainty remains about how water repellency is distributed around soil aggregates. The distribution pattern of soil water content and soil hydraulic conductivity around Cr. japonica was related to other factors such as the litter layer and non-water-repellant soil.
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