Journal Article

A comparison of heat pulse and deuterium tracing techniques for estimating sap flow in <i>Eucalyptus grandis</i> trees

Steven J. Kalma, Peter J. Thorburn and Greg M. Dunn

in Tree Physiology

Volume 18, issue 10, pages 697-705
Published in print October 1998 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online October 1998 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI:
A comparison of heat pulse and deuterium tracing techniques for estimating sap flow in Eucalyptus grandis trees

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Sap flow rates were measured simultaneously by the heat pulse and deuterium tracing techniques in nine Eucalyptus grandis W. Hill ex Maiden. trees at two sites (1) to compare results from the two techniques and (2) to assess the impact of the assumptions underlying the deuterium tracing method on the calculation of sap flow for a range of tree sizes. The trees ranged in height from 4 to 14 m with leaf areas of 5 to 35 m2. In all trees, sap flow estimated by the deuterium tracing technique was higher than sap flow estimated by the heat pulse method, with differences of 11 to 43% in eight of the trees and 113% in one tree. The largest difference was attributed to errors in the heat pulse method, as indicated by aberrant relationships between sap flow measured by the heat pulse method and tree size characteristics (i.e., diameter, sap wood area, leaf area) for that tree compared with the other experimental trees. Drilling holes in the trees to allow injection of deuterium had no significant effect on sap flow, even when 32 holes were drilled. Sap flow measured by the heat pulse method was only lower after drilling than before drilling in three trees, and the difference only persisted for about 1 h. Deuterium concentrations of water collected from the tree canopies had not returned to background values 17 days after injection. Twenty-one days after injection, sapwood and heartwood samples taken from trunks near the injection sites contained considerable concentrations of deuterium, indicating that some of the deuterium injected into the trees was still present. An experiment performed on two trees showed that deuterium was stored in the heartwood and sapwood throughout the trees, and its distribution within the trees four days after injection was similar whether it was injected into only the sapwood (where it should mix with sap and be transported from the tree most readily) or into both the sapwood and heartwood, indicating that there was considerable movement of deuterium between the heartwood and sapwood. Deuterium storage was accounted for by an approximate means in the sap flow calculations, and may have resulted in an error of about 10% in sap flow estimated by this method. We conclude that the heat pulse and deuterium tracing techniques can be used simultaneously to increase the number of sap flow measurements obtained from a forest, thereby increasing the precision of forest water use estimates. Their combination would be most effective in stands with a wide range of tree sizes and sap flow rates, where the relative differences in sap flux estimates between the methods is small compared with differences in sap flow between trees.

Keywords: heartwood; leaf area; sapwood; transpiration; water use; xylem

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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