Diurnal and seasonal changes in stem radius increment and sap flow density indicate different responses of two co-existing oak species to drought stress

Ilona Mészáros, Péter Kanalas, András Fenyvesi, József Kis, Balázs Nyitrai, Erzsébet Szollosi, Viktor Oláh, Zita Demeter, Ágnes Lakatos, István Ander

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Using continuous monitoring of stem radius combined with sap flow measurements we assessed the effects of environmental conditions on tree radial growth and water status of two coexisting oak species (Quercus petraea and Quercus cerris) at high resolution time in growing seasons of 2008 and 2009. The forest (95-100 yr) is situated in a xeric site in the transition zone between forested and forest-steppe regions in north-eastern Hungary, Bükk mountains (47°90'N, 20°46'E, elevation 320-340 m a.s.l.). Weather conditions in the growing season of 2008 (total rainfall 354 mm, mean daily temperature 17.0 °C) was less extreme than in 2009 (total rainfall 299 mm, temperature 17.9 °C). Rainfall strongly determined the course of radial growth increment in trees. Radial growth of trees was limited in 2009 due to the drought in spring. The maximum radial increment of both species was achieved three weeks earlier (4 th week of June) than in 2008 (4 th week of July). We used dendrometer monitoring data for estimation of stem (tree) water deficit (ΔW) by measuring water-related changes in stem radius (Zweifel et al. 2005). The magnitude of tree water deficit variation (ΔW) was always smaller in Q. cerris than in Q. petraea. In contrast, Quercus cerris always exhibited larger daytime averages and maxima of sap flow density. In August of 2009 when drought became severe there were larger increases in tree water deficit (ΔW) (50-55 %) in both species compared to July as it could be expected from the extent of decreases in sap flow density (24-28%). Our data suggested that due to the low SWC the transpiration was supported mainly from the inner water storage of trees during prolonged drought which resulted in high stem water deficit (ΔW).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-108
Number of pages12
JournalActa Silvatica et Lignaria Hungarica
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2011



  • Drought
  • Forest
  • Potential evapotranspiration
  • Quercus cerris
  • Quercus petraea
  • Stem (tree) water deficit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry

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