, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 997–1007 | Cite as

Transient changes in transpiration, and stem and soil CO2 efflux in longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) following fire-induced leaf area reduction

  • Barton D. Clinton
  • Chris A. Maier
  • Chelcy R. Ford
  • Robert J. Mitchell
Original Paper


In 20-year-old longleaf pine, we examined short-term effects of reduced live leaf area (A L) via canopy scorching on sap flow (Q; kg H2O h−1), transpiration per unit leaf area (E L; mm day−1), stem CO2 efflux (R stem; μmol m−2 s−1) and soil CO2 efflux (R soil; μmol m−2 s−1) over a 2-week period during early summer. R stem and Q were measured at two positions (1.3-m or BH, and base of live crown—BLC), and R soil was measured using 15 open-system chambers on each plot. E L before and after treatment was estimated using Q measured at BLC with estimates of A L before and after scorching. We expected Q to decrease in scorched trees compared with controls resulting from reduced A L. We expected R stem at BLC and BH and R soil to decrease following scorching due to reduced leaf area, which would decrease carbon supply to the stem and roots. Scorching reduced A L by 77%. Prior to scorching, Q at BH was similar between scorch and control trees. Following scorching, Q was not different between control and scorch trees; however, E L increased immediately following scorching by 3.5-fold compared to control trees. Changes in E L in scorched trees corresponded well with changes in VPD (D), whereas control trees appeared more decoupled over the 5-day period following treatment. By the end of the study, R stem decreased to 15–25% in scorched trees at both stem positions compared to control trees. Last, we found that scorching resulted in a delayed and temporary increase in R soil rather than a decrease. No change in Q and increased E L following scorching indicates a substantial adjustment in stomatal conductance in scorched trees. Divergence in R stem between scorch and control trees suggests a gradual decline in stem carbohydrates following scorching. The absence of a strong R soil response is likely due to non-limiting supplies of root starch during early summer.


Fire Longleaf pine Sap flow Stem respiration Soil respiration Ichauway 



This research was supported in part through a Challenge Cost Share Grant from the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station. We thank D. Guo and S. Pecot for facilitating the study and for providing supporting information for the site. We thank Drs. L. Samuelson and J. Vose for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and the textual content is therefore in the public domain and not subject to copyright.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag (outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barton D. Clinton
    • 1
  • Chris A. Maier
    • 2
  • Chelcy R. Ford
    • 1
  • Robert J. Mitchell
    • 3
  1. 1.Southern Research Station, Coweeta Hydrologic LabUSDA Forest ServiceOttoUSA
  2. 2.Southern Research Station, Research Triangle ParkUSDA Forest ServiceRTPUSA
  3. 3.Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research CenterNewtonUSA

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