Changes in whole-tree water relations during ontogeny of Pinus flexilis and Pinus ponderosa in a high-elevation meadow

Dylan G. Fischer, Thomas E Kolb, Laura E. DeWald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations


We measured sap flux in Pinus ponderosa Laws. and Pinus flexilis James trees in a high-elevation meadow in northern Arizona that has been invaded by conifers over the last 150 years. Sap flux and environmental data were collected from July 1 to September 1, 2000, and used to estimate leaf specific transpiration rate (E1), canopy conductance (Gc) and whole-plant hydraulic conductance (Kh). Leaf area to sapwood area ratio (LA/SA) increased with increasing tree size in P. flexilis, but decreased with increasing tree size in P. ponderosa. Both Gc and Kh decreased with increasing tree size in P. flexilis, and showed no clear trends with tree size in P. ponderosa. For both species, Gc was lower in the summer dry season than in the summer rainy season, but E1 did not change between wet and dry summer seasons. Midday water potential (Ψmid) did not change across seasons for either species, whereas predawn water potential (Ψpre) tracked variation in soil water content across seasons. Pinus flexilis showed greater stomatal response to vapor pressure deficit (VPD) and maintained higher Ψmid than P. ponderosa. Both species showed greater sensitivity to VPD at high photosynthetically active radiation (PAR; > 2500 μmol m-2 s-1) than at low PAR (< 2500 μmol m-2 s-1). We conclude that the direction of change in Gc and Kh with increasing tree size differed between co-occurring Pinus species, and was influenced by changes in LA/SA. Whole-tree water use and E1 were similar between wet and dry summer seasons, possibly because of tight stomatal control over water loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-685
Number of pages11
JournalTree Physiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2002



  • Canopy conductance
  • Leaf area/sapwood area ratio
  • Limber pine
  • Ponderosa pine
  • Transpiration
  • Whole-plant hydraulic conductance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Plant Science

Cite this