Contrasting patterns of hydraulic redistribution in three desert phreatophytes

K.R. Hultine, D.G. Williams, Stephen Burgess, T.O. Keefer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    94 Citations (Scopus)


    We measured sap flow in taproots, lateral roots and stems within a single individual in each of three co-occurring tree species in a Chihuahuan desert arroyo to assess the seasonality and magnitude of hydraulic redistribution. Nocturnal reverse flow (hydraulic redistribution) was detected in shallow lateral roots of Fraxinus velutina and Juglans major during periods when surface soils were dry. Reverse flow in the Fraxinus lateral root ranged from near zero to 120 g h(-1), and was inversely correlated with nighttime vapor pressure deficit (D), suggesting that nighttime transpiration may have inhibited hydraulic redistribution. Reverse flow in the Juglans lateral root ranged from near zero to 18 g h(-1). There was no relationship between reverse flow and nighttime D in the Juglans lateral root, despite a weak positive relationship between nighttime D and rates of basipetal flow (flow towards the stem) in the taproot. Reverse flow in Fraxinus and Juglans ceased when surface soils were wetted by monsoon rains and flooding. We found no reverse flow or seasonal variation in root sap flow in Celtis reticulata. However, basipetal sap flow in Celtis roots continued throughout most of the evening, even during periods when D was near zero, and commenced in the morning more than two hours after the onset of sap flow in the main stem. Patterns of nocturnal root sap flow in Celtis may have been facilitated by the diurnal withdrawal from, and refilling of above ground storage compartments (i.e. above ground diurnal storage capacity), which may have prevented hydraulic redistribution. Species differences in nocturnal root function may have significant impacts on ecosystem hydrological fluxes, and should be considered when scaling fluxes to catchment, landscape, and regional levels.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)167-175
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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