Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2018, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (4): 466-474.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2017.0249

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Sap flow of Robinia pseudoacacia in response to rainfall exclusion treatment and environment factors in a sub-humid area in Loess Plateau

Qiu-Yue HE1,2,Mei-Jie YAN2,3,Jian-Guo ZHANG4,Sheng DU2,3,*()   

  1. 1 College of Forestry, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China;
    2 State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on Loess Plateau, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China;
    3 Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Academy of Sciences & Ministry of Water Resources, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China;
    4 Upper and Middle Yellow River Bureau, Xi’an 710021, China;
  • Online:2018-03-08 Published:2018-04-20
  • Contact: Sheng DU
  • Supported by:
    Supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41471440 and 41411140035).


Aims Global climate change will increase the uncertainty of precipitation patterns and affect the growth and distribution of plants. In the sub-humid and semi-arid areas of central China, black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) plantations are widely planted in reforestation practices. These forests are vulnerable to climate change induced water stress. This research aims to clarify the responses of black locust transpiration to rainfall and soil water conditions.

Methods To evaluate the responses of transpiration to precipitation changes, we measured and contrasted sap flow of black locust trees under throughfall exclusion treatment and the non-treated control in the Huaiping plantation forest of Yongshou County, a sub-humid area in Loess Plateau. Throughfall and soil moisture for both control and treatment plots were monitored. Waterproof panels were set in April 2015 for the treatment plot which excluded about 47.5% of the precipitation during the growing season. Stem sap flow in treatment and control plots have been measured since 2014 using Granier-type sensors. Meteorological factors including solar radiation, air temperature, and relative air humidity were monitored simultaneously outside the forest stand.

Important findings Difference in soil moisture developed between treatment and control plots, the mean soil moisture content in treatment plot was 23.76%, lower than 22.59% (p < 0.001, n = 31) in the control plot during the middle growing season. Sap flux densities reduced following the treatment. The mean sap flux density under general weather conditions for the treatment plot was 1.64 mL·m -2·s -1, not only lower than 2.42 mL·m -2·s -1 of the previous year (before treatment), but also lower than 3.38 mL·m -2·s -1 for control plot during the same period. The response patterns of sap flux density to solar radiation and vapor pressure deficit were also different, with the trees in treatment plot showing lower sensitivities to meteorological factors than those in the control plot. Our results show that transpiration of planted black locust trees was suppressed by the throughfall exclusion. The responses of transpiration to meteorological factors decreased compared with a pretreatment period or control plot. These results suggest that decrease in precipitation will not only reduce soil moisture, but may cause decreased transpiration, decreased responses to climatic variables, and lowered productivity as well.

Key words: Robinia pseudoacacia, Granier-type sensor, rainfall exclusion, sap flow, transpiration

Table 1

Basic parameters of sample trees"

tree No.
height (m)
Diameter at
breast height (cm)
Sap wood
thinkness (cm)
2014 1 14.1 13.8 3.6
2 17.7 19.5 4.6
3 10.7 10.3 2.9
4 10.4 10.4 2.9
5 10.6 10.4 2.9
6 18.7 20.0 4.7
2015 1 16.5 14.1 3.6
2 19.9 20.0 4.7
3 10.7 10.3 2.9
4 11.3 10.8 3.0
5 11.3 10.5 2.9
6 18.8 20.3 4.7

Fig. 1

Soil water content (SWC) and precipitation during the two study periods."

Fig. 2

Diurnal courses of sap flux density of sample trees and meteorology factors during two study periods (14 July 2015 was excluded from analyses due to overcast)."

Table 2

Solar radiation, vapor pressure deficit and sap flux densities (Fd) in the two study periods and their ratios (mean ± SE, n = 6)"

Study period
Mean daily solar
radiation (MJ·m-2·d-1)
Mean vapor pressure
deficit (kPa)
Mean sap flux density of
sample tree 1-3 (mL·m-2·s-1)
Mean sap flux density of
sample tree 4-6 (mL·m-2·s-1)
处理前 Before treatment (2014) 20.62 ± 1.69 0.65 ± 0.03 3.53 ± 2.67 2.42 ± 1.84
处理期 Treatment (2015) 21.96 ± 1.51 0.53 ± 0.0201 3.38 ± 2.93 1.64 ± 1.39
处理期/处理前Treatment/Before treatment 1.07 0.81 0.96 0.68

Fig. 3

Response patterns of sap flux density to vapor pressure deficit for the arising stage in the morning."

Table 3

Difference analyses on regression parameters for sap flux density vs. vapor pressure deficit"

Sample tree 1-3
Sample tree 4-6
Difference between slopes
2014 a = 8.41 a = 6.78 NS
R2 = 0.64 R2 = 0.63
p < 0.000 1 p < 0.000 1
2015 a = 12.33 a = 5.34 p < 0.001
R2 = 0.59 R2 = 0.69
p < 0.000 1 p < 0.000 1
1 Alberti G, Inglima I, Arriga N, Piermatteo D, Pecchiari M, Zaldei A, Papale D, Peressotti A, Valentini R, Cotrufo M, Magnani F, Miglietta F ( 2007). Cambiamenti nel regime pluviometrico in ecosistemi mediterranei: II progetto MIND. Forest@, 4, 460-468.
2 Besson CK, Lobo-do-Vale R, Rodrigues ML, Almeida P, Herd A, Grant OM, David TS, Schmidt M, Otieno D, Keenan TF, Gouveia C, Meriaux C, Chaves MM, Pereira JS ( 2014). Cork oak physiological responses to manipulated water availability in a Mediterranean woodland. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 184, 230-242.
doi: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2013.10.004
3 Campbell GS, Norman JM ( 1998). An Introduction to Environmental Biophysics. Springer-Verlag, New York.
4 Cermak J, Cienciala E, Kucera J, Lindroth A, Bednarova E ( 1995). Individual variation of sap-flow rate in large pine and spruce trees and stand transpiration: A pilot-study at the central NOPEX site. Journal of Hydrology, 168, 17-27.
doi: 10.1016/0022-1694(94)02657-W
5 Editorial Board of Silva of China ( 1978). Technology for Chief Tree Species Afforestation in China (Volume One). Agriculture Press, Beijing.
[ 中国树木志编委会 ( 1978). 中国主要树种造林技术(上册). 农业出版社, 北京.]
6 Du S, Liu GB ( 2015). Ecological Function of Vegetation Restoration in Loess Plateau. Science Press, Beijing.
[ 杜盛, 刘国彬 ( 2015). 黄土高原植被恢复的生态功能. 科学出版社, 北京.]
7 Du S, Wang YL, Kume T, Zhang JG, Otsuki K, Yamanaka N, Liu GB ( 2011). Sapflow characteristics and climatic responses in three forest species in the semiarid Loess Plateau region of China. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 151, 1-10.
doi: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2010.08.011
8 Fisher RA, Williams M, Da Costa AL, Malhi Y, Da Costa RF, Almeida S, Meir P ( 2007). The response of an Eastern Amazonian rain forest to drought stress: Results and modelling analyses from a throughfall exclusion experiment. Global Change Biology, 13, 2361-2378.
doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2007.01417.x
9 Granier A ( 1987). Evaluation of transpiration in a Douglas-fir stand by means of sap flow measurements. Tree Physiology, 3, 309-320.
doi: 10.1093/treephys/3.4.309 pmid: 14975915
10 Green SR ( 1993). Radiation balance, transpiration and photosynthesis of an isolated tree. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 64, 201-221.
doi: 10.1016/0168-1923(93)90029-H
11 Han RL, Liang ZS, Hou QC, Zou HY ( 1994). Water consumption properties of adaptable nuisery stocks on Loess Plateau. Chinese Journal of Applied Ecology, 5, 210-213.
[ 韩蕊莲, 梁宗锁, 侯庆春, 邹厚远 ( 1994). 黄土高原适生树种苗木的耗水特性. 应用生态学报, 5, 210-213.]
12 James SA, Clearwater MJ, Meinzer FC, Goldstein G ( 2002). Heat dissipation sensors of variable length for the measurement of sap flow in trees with deep sapwood. Tree Physiology, 22, 277-283.
doi: 10.1093/treephys/22.4.277 pmid: 11874724
13 Knapp AK, Briggs JM, Collins SL, Archer SR, Bret-Harte MS, Ewers BE, Peters DP, Young DR, Shaver GR, Pendall E, Cleary MB ( 2008). Shrub encroachment in North American grasslands: Shifts in growth form dominance rapidly alters control of ecosystem carbon inputs. Global Change Biology, 14, 615-623.
doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2007.01512.x
14 Li GQ, Xu GH, Zhang XQ, Huang JH, Wen ZM, Du S ( 2018). Afforestation and climate niche dynamics of black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia). Forest Ecology and Management, 407, 184-190
doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2017.10.019
15 Limousin JM, Rambal S, Ourcival JM, Rocheteau A, Joffre R, Rodriguez-Cortina R ( 2009). Long-term transpiration change with rainfall decline in a Mediterranean Quercus ilex forest. Global Change Biology, 15, 2163-2175.
doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2009.01852.x
16 Llorens P, Poyatos R, Latron J, Delgado J, Oliveras I, Gallart F ( 2010). A multi-year study of rainfall and soil water controls on Scots pine transpiration under Mediterranean mountain conditions. Hydrological Processes, 24, 3053-3064.
doi: 10.1002/hyp.7720
17 Oren R, Zimmermann R, Terborgh J ( 1996). Transpiration in upper Amazonia floodplain and upland forests in response to drought-breaking rains. Ecology, 77, 968-973.
doi: 10.2307/2265517
18 Otieno DO, Schmidt MWT, Kinyamario JI, Tenhunen J ( 2005). Responses of Acacia tortilis and Acacia xanthophloea to seasonal change in soil water availability in the savanna region of Kenya. Journal of Arid Environments, 62, 377-400.
doi: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2005.01.001
19 Pataki DE, Oren R ( 2003). Species differences in stomatal control of water loss at the canopy scale in a mature bottomland deciduous forest. Advances in Water Resources, 26, 1267-1278.
doi: 10.1016/j.advwatres.2003.08.001
20 Ru TQ, Li JY, Kong LS, Zhu YL ( 2005). Review on the research of water consumption characteristic of Robinia psedudoacia. Research of Soil and Water Conservation, 12, 135-140.
doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1005-3409.2005.02.042
[ 茹桃勤, 李吉跃, 孔令省, 朱延林 ( 2005). 刺槐耗水研究进展. 水土保持研究, 12, 135-140.]
doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1005-3409.2005.02.042
21 Tsunekawa A, Liu GB, Yamanaka N, Du S ( 2014). Restoration and Development of the Degraded Loess Plateau, China. Springer Japan, Tokyo.
doi: 10.1007/978-4-431-54481-4
22 Wang JX, Huang BL, Wang MC, Wang DH ( 2005). Transpiration water consumption of young Platycladus orientalis and Robinia pseudoacacia trees and their correction functions under different water supply. Chinese Journal of Applied Ecology, 16, 419-425.
[ 王进鑫, 黄宝龙, 王明春, 王迪海 ( 2005). 不同供水条件下侧柏和刺槐幼树的蒸腾耗水与土壤水分应力订正. 应用生态学报, 16, 419-425.]
23 Wang YL, Liu GB, Kume T, Otsuki K, Yamanaka N, Du S ( 2010). Estimating water use of a black locust plantation by the thermal dissipation probe method in the semiarid region of Loess Plateau, China. Journal of Forest Research, 15, 241-251.
doi: 10.1007/s10310-010-0184-y
24 Wang ZH, Miao YF, Li SX ( 2015). Effect of ammonium and nitrate nitrogen fertilizers on wheat yield in relation to accumulated nitrate at different depths of soil in drylands of China. Field Crops Research, 183, 221-224.
doi: 10.1016/j.fcr.2015.07.019
25 Wightman MG, Martin TA, Gonzalez-Benecke CA, Jokela EJ, Cropper Jr WP, Ward EJ ( 2016). Loblolly pine productivity and water relations in response to throughfall reduction and fertilizer application on a poorly drained site in northern Florida. Forests, 7, 1-19.
doi: 10.3390/f7100214
26 Wullschleger SD, Hanson PJ ( 2006). Sensitivity of canopy transpiration to altered precipitation in an upland oak forest: Evidence from a long-term field manipulation study. Global Change Biology, 12, 97-109.
doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2005.001082.x
27 Yuan Y, Hui YY, Wu YL, Wang YM, Zhao HP ( 1996). Study of influence factors locust growing in the Loess hilly region. Research of Soil and Water Conservation, 3, 146-154.
[ 袁瀛, 惠养瑜, 吴永麟, 王郁民, 赵惠萍 ( 1996). 黄土丘陵区刺槐生长的影响因子研究. 水土保持研究, 3, 146-154.]
28 Zhang HP, Simmonds LP, Morison JIL, Payne D ( 1997). Estimation of transpiration by single trees: Comparison of sap flow measurements with a combination equation. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 87, 155-169.
doi: 10.1016/S0168-1923(97)00017-8
29 Zhang JG, Kume T, Otsuke K, Yamanaka N, Du S ( 2011). Sap flow dynamics of dominant trees of Quercus liaotungensis forest in the semiarid Loess Plateau region. Scientia Silvae Sinicae, 47(4), 64-69.
[ 张建国, 久米朋宣, 大规恭一, 山中典和, 杜盛 ( 2011). 黄土高原半干旱区辽东栎的树干液流动态. 林业科学, 47(4), 64-69.]
[1] LI Dou-Dou, XI Ben-Ye, WANG Fei, JIA Su-Ping, ZHAO Hong-Lin, HE Yue-Lin, LIU Yang, JIA Li-Ming. Patterns of variations in leaf turgor pressure and responses to environmental factors in Populus tomentosa [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2018, 42(7): 741-751.
[2] Chao-Yang FENG, He-Song WANG, Jian-xin SUN. Temporal changes of vegetation water use efficiency and its influencing factors in Northern China [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2018, 42(4): 453-465.
[3] Zhang Ping, Hao Xiuying, Yu Ruifeng, Zhou Hongmei, Zhu Jianjun. A Tentative Method for Monitoring the Dynamic Features of Transpiration Regulation in Ferula krylovii Leaves [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2018, 53(3): 353-363.
[4] YANG Jun-Jun, FENG Jian-Min, HE Zhi-Bin. Estimating whole-tree water use of Picea crassifolia based on heat ratio method [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2018, 42(2): 195-201.
[5] LI Xu-Hua, SUN Osbert Jianxin. Testing parameter sensitivities and uncertainty analysis of Biome-BGC model in simulating carbon and water fluxes in broadleaved-Korean pine forests [J]. Chin J Plant Ecol, 2018, 42(12): 1131-1144.
[6] ZHANG Zhen-Zhen, ZHAO Ping, ZHAO Xiu-Hua, ZHANG Jin-Xiu, ZHU Li-Wei, OUYANG Lei, ZHANG Xiao-Yan. Impact of environmental factors on the decoupling coefficient and the estimation of canopy stomatal conductance for ever-green broad-leaved tree species [J]. Chin J Plant Ecol, 2018, 42(12): 1179-1191.
[7] LI Li-Yuan, LI Jun, TONG Xiao-Juan, MENG Ping, ZHANG Jin-Song, ZHANG Jing-Ru. Simulation on the light-response curves of electron transport rate of Quercus variabilis and Robinia pseudoacacia leaves in the Xiaolangdi area, China [J]. Chin J Plant Ecol, 2018, 42(10): 1009-1021.
[8] Xiao-Tao HUANG, Ge-Ping LUO. Spatio-temporal characteristics of evapotranspiration and water use efficiency in grasslands of Xinjiang [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2017, 41(5): 506-518.
[9] Qi-Dan WANG, Wen-Xin YANG, Jie-Yu HUANG, Kun XU, Pei WANG. Shrub encroachment effect on the evapotranspiration and its component—A numerical simulation study of a shrub encroachment grassland in Nei Mongol, China [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2017, 41(3): 348-358.
[10] Dan WANG, Yun-Zhou QIAO, Bao-Di DONG, Jing GE, Ping-Guo YANG, Meng-Yu LIU. Differential effects of diurnal asymmetric and symmetric warming on yield and water utilization of soybean [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2016, 40(8): 827-833.
[11] Ying Liu, Baozhang Chen,Jing Chen,Guang Xu . Applicability of Evapotranspiration Simulation Models for Forest Ecosystems in Qianyanzhou [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2016, 51(2): 226-234.
[12] Qing-Xian KONG, Jiang-Bao XIA, Zi-Guo ZHAO, Fan-Zhu QU. Effects of groundwater salinity on the characteristics of leaf photosynthesis and stem sap flow in Tamarix chinensis [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2016, 40(12): 1298-1309.
[13] Bei-Bei DUAN, Cheng-Zhang ZHAO, Ting XU, Hui-Ling ZHENG, Wei FENG, Ling HAN. Correlation analysis between vein density and stomatal traits of Robinia pseudoacacia in different aspects of Beishan Mountain in Lanzhou [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2016, 40(12): 1289-1297.
[14] XU Shi-Qin,JI Xi-Bin,JIN Bo-Wen. Dynamics and responses of sap flow of typical sand binding plants Haloxylon ammodendron to environmental variables [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2015, 39(9): 890-900.
[15] MI Zhao-Rong,CHEN Li-Tong,ZHANG Zhen-Hua,HE Jin-Sheng. Alpine grassland water use efficiency based on annual precipitation, growing season precipitation and growing season evapotranspiration [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2015, 39(7): 649-660.
Full text



[1] Qin Wei-cheng Li Jian-zhong. The Application Effects of the Cold-resister CR-4 in Our Area's Rice Seedling Culture[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1994, 11(特辑): 102 -104 .
[2] Ningguang Dong, Ying Gao, Wei Wang, Weilun Yin, Dong Pei. Immunogold Silver Localization of Indole-3-acetic Acid (IAA) During the Rhizogenesis of In Vitro Poplar[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2011, 46(3): 324 -330 .
[3] HONG Wei CAO Jia-Shu. The Function of FLC in Vernalization Process[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2002, 19(04): 406 -411 .
[4] . Development and Utilization of Plant Resources II[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1994, 11(02): 53 -57 .
[5] FAN Qing-Shu ZHAO Jian-Cheng YU Shu-Hong LI Xiu-Qin. Progress in Study on Spore Germination and Protonema Development of the Bryophytes[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2003, 20(03): 280 -286 .
[6] LIU Jian-Wu LIU Ning. The Progress in Study on Development of Fern Gametophytes and Differentiation of Sex Organ[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2001, 18(02): 149 -157 .
[7] An Cheng-xi. Studies on the Chemical Constituents of Essential of Aiania-Tanuifolia[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1997, 14(增刊): 74 -76 .
[8] Nie Wei. Observation on some Biological Characteristics of Juncellus serotinus in Transplanted Rice[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1988, 5(01): 34 -36 .
[9] . Mechanism of Plant Photosynthetic Acclimation to Elevated Atmospheric CO2[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2005, 22(04): 486 -493 .