Journal Article

Interspecific variation in nighttime transpiration and stomatal conductance in a mixed New England deciduous forest

Michael J. Daley and Nathan G. Phillips

in Tree Physiology

Volume 26, issue 4, pages 411-419
Published in print April 2006 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online April 2006 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI:
Interspecific variation in nighttime transpiration and stomatal conductance in a mixed New England deciduous forest

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Transpiration is generally assumed to be insignificant at night when stomata close in response to the lack of photosynthetically active radiation. However, there is increasing evidence that the stomata of some species remain open at night, which would allow for nighttime transpiration if there were a sufficient environmental driving force. We examined nighttime water use in co-occurring species in a mixed deciduous stand at Harvard Forest, MA, using whole-tree and leaf-level measurements. Diurnal whole-tree water use was monitored continuously with Granier-style sap flux sensors in paper birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.), red oak (Quercus rubra L.) and red maple (Acer rubrum L.). An analysis was conducted in which nighttime water flux could be partitioned between refilling of internal water stores and transpiration. Substantial nighttime sap flux was observed in all species and much of this flux was attributed to the refilling of depleted water stores. However, in paper birch, nighttime sap flux frequently exceeded recharge estimates. Over 10% of the total daily sap flux during the growing season was due to transpiration at night in paper birch. Nighttime sap flux was over 8% of the total daily flux in red oak and 2% in red maple; however, this flux was mainly associated with recharge. On nights with elevated vapor pressure deficit, sap flux continued through the night in paper birch, whereas it reached zero during the night in red oak and red maple. Measurements of leaf-level gas exchange on a night with elevated vapor pressure deficit showed stomatal conductance dropping by only 25% in paper birch, while approaching zero in red oak and red maple. The study highlighted differences in ecophysiological controls on sap flux exerted by co-occurring species. Paper birch is a fast-growing, shade-intolerant species with an earlier successional status than red oak and red maple. Risking water loss through nighttime transpiration may provide paper birch with an ecological advantage by enabling the species to maximize photosynthesis and support rapid growth. Nighttime transpiration may also be a mechanism for delivering oxygen to respiring cells in the deep sapwood of paper birch.

Keywords: Acer rubrum; Betula papyrifera; nighttime water use; Quercus rubra; recharge; sap flux; water storage

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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