Sap flow characteristics and responses to summer rainfall for Pinus tabulaeformis and Hippophae rhamnoides in the Loess hilly region of China

Wu, X.; Tang, Y.; Chen, Y.; Wen, J.; Xie, Y.; Lu, S.

Ecology and Evolution 8(1): 617-630


ISSN/ISBN: 2045-7758
PMID: 29321898
DOI: 10.1002/ece3.3639
Accession: 066427641

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As a major driving element of the structure and function of arid and semiarid ecosystems, rainfall is the essential factor limiting plant biological processes. To clarify the characteristics of transpiration and responses to summer rainfall, sap flow density (Fd) of Pinus tabulaeformis and Hippophae rhamnoides was monitored using thermal dissipation probes. In addition, midday leaf water potential (ψm) and leaf stomatal conductance (Gs) were also analyzed to determine water use strategies. The results indicated that the diurnal variation in the normalized Fd values exhibited a single-peak curve for P. tabulaeformis, while H. rhamnoides showed multiple peaks. The normalized Fd for P. tabulaeformis remained relatively stable regardless of rainfall events. However, there was also a significant increase in the normalized Fd for H. rhamnoides in response to rainfall in June and August (p < .05), although no significant differences were observed in July. The normalized Fd values for P. tabulaeformis and H. rhamnoides fitted well with the derived variable of transpiration, an integrated index calculated from the vapor pressure deficit and solar radiation (Rs), using an exponential saturation function. The differences in fitting coefficients suggested that H. rhamnoides showed more sensitivity to summer rainfall (p < .01) than P. tabulaeformis. Furthermore, during the study period, P. tabulaeformis reduced Gs as soil water decreased, maintaining a relatively constant ψm; while H. rhamnoides allowed large fluctuations in ψm to maintain Gs. Therefore, P. tabulaeformis and H. rhamnoides should be considered isohydric and anisohydric species, respectively. And more consideration should be taken for H. rhamnoides in the afforestation activities and the local plantation management under the context of the frequently seasonal drought in the loess hilly region.