The semi-arid region of China's Loess Plateau is characterized by fragile ecosystems and a shortage of water resources. The major natural forest type in this region is the secondary forest with the flora dominated by the Liaodong oak (Quercus liaotungensis Koidz.). To understand its transpiration water use in relation to environmental factors, we applied Granier-type thermal dissipation probes to monitor stem sap flows of 21 sample trees, representing different classes of diameter at breast height in a permanent plot. The stem- and stand-scale transpiration values during the 2008-2010 growing seasons were estimated using measurements of sap flux densities and corresponding sapwood areas. The dominant factors affecting stand-scale transpiration varied with time scales. Daily stand transpiration correlated with daily solar radiation and daytime average vapor pressure deficit. Seasonal and interannual changes in stand transpiration were closely related to leaf area index (LAI) values. No obvious relationship was observed between monthly stand transpiration and soil moisture or precipitation during the period, probably as a result of both the hysteretic effect of precipitation on transpiration, and changes in LAI throughout the growing season. Stand transpiration during the three growing seasons ranged from 75 to 106 mm, representing low to normal values for the semi-arid forest. The proportion of transpiration by oak trees in the stand was stable ranging from 60% to 66% and corresponded to their basal area proportion of approximately 59%. The results suggest that the natural forest consisting mainly of oak trees is in a formal stage of forest development that maintains a normal magnitude of annual water consumption.
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