Sap Flow in Aleppo Pine in Greece in Relation to Sapwood Radial Gradient, Temporal and Climatic Variability
Research Highlights: The radial gradient of sap flux density (Js) and the effects of climatic factors on sap flow of Aleppo pine were assessed at different time scales in an eastern Mediterranean ecosystem to improve our understanding of the species water balance. Background and Objectives: Aleppo pine's sap flow radial profile and responses to environmental parameters in the eastern Mediterranean were, to our best knowledge, originating to date from more arid planted forests. Information from
... . Information from natural forests in this region was lacking. Our objectives were to (a) determine the species' radial variability in Js on a diurnal and seasonal basis and under different climatic conditions, (b) scale up to tree sap flow taking into account the radial profile of Js and (c) determine the responses of Aleppo pine's sap flow over the year to climatic variability. Materials and Methods: Js was monitored in Aleppo pine in a natural forest in northern Greece with Granier's method using sensors at three sapwood depths (21, 51, and 81 mm) during two periods differing in climatic conditions, particularly in soil water availability. Results: Js was the highest at 21 mm sapwood depth, and it declined with increasing depth. A steeper gradient of Js in deep sapwood was observed under drier conditions. The same patterns of radial variability in Js were maintained throughout the year, but the contribution of inner sapwood to sap flow was the highest in autumn when the lower seasonal Js was recorded in both study periods. Not taking into account the radial gradient of Js in the studied Aleppo pine would result in a c. 20.2–27.7 % overestimation of total sap flow on a sapwood basis (Qs), irrespective of climatic conditions. On a diurnal and seasonal basis, VPD was the strongest determinant of sap flux density, while at a larger temporal scale, the effect of soil water content was evident. At SWC > 20% sap flow responded positively to increasing solar radiation and VPD, indicating the decisive role of water availability in the studied region. Moreover, in drier days with VPD > 0.7 KPa, SWC controlled the variation of sap flow. Conclusions: There is a considerable radial variability in Js of the studied Aleppo pine and a considerable fluctuation of sap flow with environmental dynamics that should be taken into account when addressing the species water balance.