Characterizing water use strategies of Acer saccharum, Liriodendron tulipifera, and Quercus spp. during a severe drought
Monday, 15 December 2014
In many areas, drought is expected to occur more frequently and intensely in the future due to climate change; however, drought effects on ecosystem-scale fluxes in diverse forests will reflect the diversity of water use strategies among the dominant tree species. For three years (2011-2013) that included a severe drought event (in 2012), we measured the sap flow densities along the sapwood profiles (four radial depths: 1, 2, 3, 4 cm) in Acer saccharum, Liriodendron tulipifera, and Quercus spp. using the compensation heat pulse technique at the Morgan-Monroe State Forest (Indiana, USA). Sap flow velocity varies along the radial profile of the stem, and thus characterizing its pattern is important for estimating whole tree sap flow, and for characterizing the extent to which water stress alters the radial pattern of flow. We also focused on the nocturnal sap flow, which may be used to replenish stored water depleted during the daytime, in order to assess the extent to which the three species rely on hydraulic capacitance to cope with water stress. Sap flow densities along the sapwood profile of all three species tended to increase toward the cambium under moderate climate, while the tendency was reversed under severe drought. This shift may indicate greater reliance on stored water in the inner sapwood or cavitation of outer sapwood during the drought. It was also noticeable that Quercus spp. showed lower maximum sap flow density and narrower range (1.5 - 4.6 cm h-1) than other species (A. saccharum: 1.0 – 20.8 cm h-1, L. tulipifera: < 0.1 – 45.2 cm h-1) during 3 years of measurements. In addition, nocturnal/diurnal ratios of volumetric sap flows were significantly higher in the drought year for A. saccharum (0.140.01 in 2011 and 0.200.01 in 2013 vs. 0.290.01 in 2012) and L. tulipifera (0.140.00 in 2011 and 0.090.01 in 2013 vs. 0.300.01 in 2012), while Quercus spp. didn’t show a significant difference between moderate and drought years. This may be due to the replenishment of stored water of A. saccharum and L. tulipifera that was lost during the daytime. These results implied different strategies among the species to reduce water loss under drought conditions; with A. saccharum and L. tulipifera apparently relying on more conservative approaches that depend on the use of stored water.