Transpiration and stomatal conductance in a young secondary tropical montane forest: contrasts between native trees and invasive understorey shrubs

Chandra Prasad Ghimire, L. Adrian Bruijnzeel, Maciek W Lubczynski, Bob W Zwartendijk, Vincent Omondi Odongo, Maafaka Ravelona, H J (ilja) Van Meerveld (Corresponding Author)

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8 Citations (Scopus)


It has been suggFested that vigorous secondary tropical forests can have very high transpiration rates, but sap flow and stomatal conductance dynamics of trees and shrubs in these forests are understudied. In an effort to address this knowledge gap, sap flow (thermal dissipation method, 12 trees) and stomatal conductance (porometry, six trees) were measured for young (5-7 years) Psiadia altissima (DC.) Drake trees, a widely occurring species dominating young regrowth following abandonment of swidden agriculture in upland eastern Madagascar. In addition, stomatal conductance (g s) was determined for three individuals of two locally common invasive shrubs (Lantana camara L. and Rubus moluccanus L.) during three periods with contrasting soil moisture conditions. Values of g s for the three investigated species were significantly higher and more sensitive to climatic conditions during the wet period compared with the dry period. Further, g s of the understorey shrubs was much more sensitive to soil moisture content than that of the trees. Tree transpiration rates (E c) were relatively stable during the dry season and were only affected somewhat by soil water content at the end of the dry season, suggesting the trees had continued access to soil water despite drying out of the topsoil. The E c exhibited a plateau-shaped relation with vapour pressure deficit (VPD), which was attributed to stomatal closure at high VPD. Vapour pressure deficit was the major driver of variation in E c, during both the wet and the dry season. Overall water use of the trees was modest, possibly reflecting low site fertility after three swidden cultivation cycles. The observed contrast in g s response to soil water and climatic conditions for the trees and shrubs underscores the need to take root distributions into account when modelling transpiration from regenerating tropical forests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1053-1070
Number of pages18
JournalTree physiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


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