Forest transpiration-targeted through xylem sap flux assessment versus hydrological modeling

Manuela Baumgarten, Wendelin Weis, Angelika Kühn, Katharina May, Rainer Matyssek

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16 Scopus citations


The assessment of forest transpiration rates is crucial for determining plant-available soil water consumption and drought risk of trees. Xylem sap flux measurements have been used increasingly to quantify stand transpiration in forest ecosystems. Here, we compare this empirical approach with hydrological modeling on the basis of a stand transpiration dataset of adult beech (Fagus sylvatica), which was acquired across Bavaria, Germany, at eight forest sites. Xylem sap flux sensors were installed in five dominant trees each. Two tree to stand upscaling approaches, related to site-specific (1) sapwood area or (2) to leaf area index, were compared. The outcome was examined each in relation to process-based stand hydrological modeling, using LWF-BROOK90. Distinct relationships between tree diameter at breast height (1.30 m) and sapwood area-weighted sap flux along the radial profile became apparent across the study sites, confirming a generic allometric basis for stand-level upscaling of transpiration. The two upscaling approaches did not differ in outcome, representatively covering stand structure for comparison with modeling. Differential analysis yielded high agreement between the empirical and modeling approaches throughout most of the study period, although LWF-BROOK90 tended to overestimate sap flux measurements under low soil moisture. The two empirical approaches proved reliable for even-aged beech stands, as performance under high stand-structural heterogeneity awaits clarification. Findings advance stand-level hydrological modeling regarding coverage of stomatal behavior during temporary limitation in water availability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-690
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Forest Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Adult beech
  • Hydrological modeling
  • Leaf area index
  • Sapwood area
  • Stand transpiration
  • Xylem sap flux


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