, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 215–222 | Cite as

Influence of temporospatial variation in sap flux density on estimates of whole-tree water use in Avicennia marina

  • Bart A. E. Van de Wal
  • Adrien Guyot
  • Catherine E. Lovelock
  • David A. Lockington
  • Kathy Steppe
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Long Distance Transport: Phloem and Xylem


Key message

Our study shows that sap flow in Avicennia marina varies significantly throughout the sapwood and that spatial patterns in sap flux density are dependent on meteorological conditions.


Sap flux density measurements are used worldwide as a relatively inexpensive means to provide estimates of whole-tree and whole-stand water use in forest ecosystems. However, erroneous upscaling from point measurements to the entire sapwood area remains an issue, since sap flow is hardly ever constant throughout the tree. In this study, two widely used sap flow methodologies (the Heat Ratio or HR method and the Heat Field Deformation or HFD method) are used to assess radial and azimuthal variations in sap flux density in three mature trees of the mangrove species Avicennia marina in Brisbane, Australia. The genus Avicennia is characterised by secondary growth via successive cambia, resulting in an atypical sapwood pattern of xylem patches braided with phloem strings. Water use estimates were calculated in different ways. At first, spatial variation was ignored when upscaling from point measurements. Then, radial and azimuthal variations were incorporated subsequently by measuring at different depths and aspects around the tree. Ignoring azimuthal variation led to over- or underestimations of up to 102 %, while radial variation accounted for discrepancies of up to 25 %. Furthermore, the influence of changing meteorological conditions was assessed, which showed that radial profiles changed in shape during rain events, such that maximum sap flow rates occurred at different depths compared to dry periods. Our study thus indicates that spatial variation in sap flux density is highly unpredictable in A. marina due to its hydraulic architecture, and that changing meteorological conditions alter the pattern of this variation. These two factors should be accounted for when assessing whole-tree water use.


Temporal variability Transpiration Scaling Sapwood area Circumferential distribution 


Author contribution statement

BAEVdW did the analysis and interpretation of the data, and wrote the paper. BAEVdW and AG performed the experiments and processed the measured data. CEL, DAL and KS designed the study. All authors commented on the manuscript.


The authors wish to thank the Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology in Flanders (IWT) for the PhD funding granted to BAEVdW and the Scientific Research Committee (CWO), Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Belgium for the travel grant allotted to BAEVdW. The authors also wish to thank ICT International, Armidale, NSW, Australia for the technical support with the equipment and Mothei Lenkopane and Kasper Oestergaard for their assistance during the field work. Furthermore, the authors wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments, which helped to improve the manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bart A. E. Van de Wal
    • 1
  • Adrien Guyot
    • 2
    • 3
  • Catherine E. Lovelock
    • 3
    • 4
  • David A. Lockington
    • 2
    • 3
  • Kathy Steppe
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Laboratory of Plant Ecology, Department of Applied Ecology and Environmental BiologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.School of Civil EngineeringThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.National Centre for Groundwater Research and TrainingBedford ParkAustralia
  4. 4.School of Biological SciencesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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