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

A validation, comparison and error analysis of two heat-pulse methods for measuring sap flow in Eucalyptus marginata saplings

Timothy M. Bleby A B , Stephen S. O. Burgess A and Mark A. Adams A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Ecosystems Research Group, School of Plant Biology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

B Corresponding author; email: timbleby@cyllene.uwa.edu.au

Functional Plant Biology 31(6) 645-658 https://doi.org/10.1071/FP04013
Submitted: 20 January 2004  Accepted: 18 March 2004   Published: 23 June 2004

Abstract

We validated and compared two heat-pulse methods for measuring sap flow in potted Eucalyptus marginata Donn ex. Smith (jarrah) saplings. During daylight hours and under well-watered conditions, rates of sap flow (0.1–0.5 kg h–1) measured by the established compensation heat-pulse method (CHPM) and the newly developed heat-ratio method (HRM) were similar to rates measured with a weighing lysimeter, and most of the time there was no significant difference (P<0.001) between methods. The HRM accurately described sap flow at night when rates of flow were low (< 0.1 kg h–1) or near zero, but the CHPM was unable to measure low rates of sap flow due to its inability to distinguish heat-pulse velocities below a threshold velocity of 0.1 kg h–1 (3–4 cm h–1). The greatest potential for error in the calculation of daily sap flow was associated with the misalignment of temperature sensors, the estimation of sapwood area and the method used to acquire total sap flow from point measurements of sap velocity. A direct comparison of the two heat-pulse methods (applied synchronously) revealed that the HRM had a more convincing mechanism for correcting spacing errors and was more resistant to random fluctuation in measurements than the CHPM. While we view the HRM more favourably than the CHPM in some key areas, both methods are valid and useful, within their constraints, for measuring transpiration in jarrah and other woody species.

Keywords: compensation heat-pulse method, error analysis, Eucalyptus, heat-ratio method, sap velocity, transpiration, weighing lysimeter.


Acknowledgments

Financial and in-kind support for this work was provided by Alcoa World Alumina Australia, the Australian Research Council and The University of Western Australia (Ecosystems Research Group and the School of Plant Biology). This research was conducted by TMB during studies towards the degree of PhD from UWA, while receiving an Australian Postgraduate Award (Industry). Support for SSOB was provided by the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management. We thank Ian Colquhoun, Barbara Bond, David Whitehead and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


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