Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Comparison of transpiration between different aged black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) trees on the semi-arid Loess Plateau, China


Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) is widely planted throughout the semi-arid Loess Plateau of China. The spatial distribution of this species at different ages is highly heterogeneous due to restoration and management practices. In this study, we aimed to compare the transpiration levels between different aged black locusts at the tree and stand scales, clarifying the physiological status of this species with different ages. Black locust trees with two representative age classes (12 and 28 years) were selected in the Yangjuangou catchment on the semi-arid Loess Plateau. Sap flux density (Fd) and environmental variables (solar radiation, air temperature, relative humidity and soil water content) were simultaneously monitored throughout the growing season of 2014. Tree transpiration (Et) was the product of Fd and sapwood area (AS), and stand transpiration (Ec) was calculated basing on the stand sap flux density (Js) and stand total sapwood area (AST). Stomatal conductance (gs) was measured in a controlled environment and hydraulic conductance was estimated using the relationship between transpiration rate and vapor pressure deficit (VPD). Our results showed that Et and Ec were higher in the 28-year-old stand than in the 12-year-old stand. The gs and hydraulic conductance of 28-year-old trees were also higher than those of 12-year-old trees, and the two parameters were thus the causes of variations in transpiration between different age classes. After rainfall, mean Fd increased by 9% in 28-year-old trees and by 5% in 12-year-old trees. This study thus suggests that stand age should be considered for estimating transpiration at the catchment and region scales in this area. These results provide ecophysiological evidences that the older black locust trees had more active physiological status than the younger ones in this area. These findings also provide basic information for the management of water resources and forests on the semi-arid Loess Plateau.

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