Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology

Seasonal responses of xylem sap velocity to VPD and solar radiation during drought in a stand of native trees in temperate Australia

Melanie J. B. Zeppel, Brad R. Murray, Craig Barton and Derek Eamus

Functional Plant Biology 31(5) 461 - 470
Published: 02 June 2004


Xylem sap velocity of two dominant tree species, Eucalyptus crebra F. Muell. and Callitris glaucophylla J. Thompson & L.A.S. Johnson, in a native remnant forest of eastern Australia was measured in winter and summer during a prolonged (> 12 months) and extensive drought. The influence of vapour pressure deficit (VPD) and solar radiation levels on the velocity of sap was determined. Pronounced hysteresis in sap velocity was observed in both species as a function of VPD and solar radiation. However, the rotation of the hysteresis curve was clockwise for the response of sap velocity to VPD but anti-clockwise in the response of sap velocity to radiation levels. A possible reason for this difference is discussed.

The degree of hysteresis (area bounded by the curve) was larger for the VPD response than the response to solar radiation and also varied with season. A simple linear model was able to predict sap velocity from knowledge of VPD and solar radiation in winter and summer. The consistent presence of hysteresis in the response to sap velocity to VPD and solar radiation suggests that large temporal and spatial models of vegetation water use may require some provision for the different responses of sap velocity, and hence water use, to VPD and solar radiation, between morning and afternoon and between seasons.

Keywords: drought, Eucalyptus, hysteresis, sap velocity, vapour pressure deficit.

© CSIRO 2004

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