Hill evergreen forest is the dominant vegetation type in northern Thailand. In this region, there is higher atmospheric evaporative demand and lower soil moisture during the 5- to 7-month dry season than in the rainy season under influences from Asian monsoons. In an earlier study we revealed that canopy-scale transpiration is actively maintained even during the latter part of the dry season in hill evergreen forest. However, the impact of soil drought on tree water use was not investigated. To clarify the ecohydrological processes at this site, we used individual tree-scale measurements during a 2-year period to base our examination of whether limited water use in individual trees is caused by soil drought in the latter part of the dry season. Sap flow and water potential measurements were conducted in four evergreen trees, two large emergent trees 29.8 and 25.4 m high, and two smaller understory trees 4.8 and 1.4 m high. The amount of rainfall preceding the late dry season of 2004 was significantly less than that preceding the late dry season of 2003. Although a distinct decrease in sap-flow velocities in individual trees due to soil water stress was not found in the late dry season of 2003, it did become comparatively apparent in the late dry season of 2004; ranging from 10 to 40% for a given atmospheric evaporative demand. Furthermore, the reductions in sap-flow velocities and predawn stem-water potential were most significant in the smallest tree. The recovery of sap-flow velocities and water potential in the smallest tree after irrigation confirmed that the reductions in sap-flow velocity and predawn stem-water potential in the smallest tree were caused by soil drought. These results suggest that shallower roots could be reason for the significant decrease in water use in the smallest trees. The deeper roots of larger trees could be the reason for the reduced impact of soil drought on water use in larger trees, and canopy-scale transpiration might be maintained by larger trees, even in an unusually severe drought. These possibilities provide a new insight for management of evergreen forests under Asian monsoon influences.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nature and Landscape Conservation
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law