Root functioning, tree water use and hydraulic redistribution in Quercus suber trees: A modeling approach based on root sap flow

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Mediterranean evergreen oaks have to survive a long summer drought. Roots may play a relevant role under these conditions. We studied their structure and function in a mature Quercus suber L. tree in central Portugal. The root system was mapped till the lowest water table level (4.5 m depth). Xylem anatomy was analyzed in a vertical profile belowground. Sap flow was continuously monitored for 1.5 yrs in the stem and roots of this intensively studied tree (heat field deformation method) and in the stem of four trees (Granier method), in relation to environmental variables and predawn leaf water potential. The sources of water uptake were assessed by stable isotope analyses in summer. Results showed a dimorphic root system with a network of superficial roots linked to sinker roots, and a taproot diverting into tangles of deep fine roots submerged for long periods, with parenchyma aerenchyma. Transpiration was not restricted in summer due to root access to groundwater. The isotopic 8180 signature of twig xylem water was similar to that of groundwater in the dry season. Two functional types of superficial roots were identified: shallow connected and deep connected roots. A modeling approach was built considering that each superficial root was linked to a sinker, with part of the root deep connected (between the stem and the sinker) and part shallow connected (between the sinker and topsoil). This conceptual framework simulated tree stem sap flow from root sap flow with a high efficiency (R-2 = 0.85) in four plot trees.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)136-146
JournalForest Ecology And Management
Issue numberNA
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

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