Stand age, tree species, canopy transpiration and average stomatal conductance

Effects of stand age and tree species on canopy transpiration and average stomatal conductance of boreal forests

by Ewers B. E., Gower S. T., Bond-Lamberty B., Wang C. K. (2005)

in Plant, Cell and Environment 28, Issue 5, 660–678 – DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2005.01312.x –


We quantified the effect of stand age and tree species composition on canopy transpiration (EC) by analysing transpiration per unit leaf area (EL) and canopy stomatal conductance (GS) for boreal trees comprising a five stand wildfire chronosequence.

A total of 196 sap flux sensors were used on 90 trees consisting of Betula papyrifera Marsh (paper birch; present in the youngest stand), Populus tremuloides Michx (quaking aspen), Pinus banksiana Lamb. (jack pine), and Picea mariana (Mill.) (black spruce).

While fine roots were positively correlated with stand EC; leaf area index, basal area, and sapwood area were not. Stands less than 70 years old were dominated by Populus tremuloides and Pinus banksiana and stands greater than 70 years old were composed almost entirely of Picea mariana.

As Populus tremuloides and Pinus banksiana increased in size and age, they displayed an increasing sapwood to leaf area ratio (AS : AL), a constant minimum leaf water potential (ΨL), and a constant proportionality between GS at low vapour pressure deficit (Dj GSref) and the sensitivity of GS to D (–δ). In contrast, AS : AL, minimum ΨL, and the proportionally between –δ and GSref decreased with height and age in Picea mariana. A GS model that included the effects of D, AS : AL, tree height, and for Picea mariana an increasing soil to leaf water potential gradient with stand age, was able to capture the effects of contrasting hydraulic properties of Picea mariana, Populus tremuloides and Pinus banksiana during stand development after wildfire.


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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