Hydraulic responses to environmental perturbations in Tsuga canadensis and Betula lenta

Michael J. Daley, Nathan G. Phillips, Justin C. Pettijohn, Julian Hadley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis (L). Carr.) is a late-successional species found across the northeastern United States of America that is currently threatened by the exotic pest, hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae Annand). Because whole-tree physiological characteristics may scale to influence ecosystem processes, we considered whole-tree hydraulic controls in eastern hemlock and the replacement species black birch (Betula lenta L.). Through a series of misting perturbations, whole-tree resistances (R), capacitances (C) and time constants (τ) were determined from time series sap flux data in eastern hemlock and black birch. Black birch trees responded more rapidly to environmental perturbations than eastern hemlock. Utilizing the step function after applied treatments, whole-tree τ ranged between 9.4 and 24.8 min in eastern hemlock trees compared with 5.9 to 10.5 min in black birch. Species was not a significant predictor of R or C when controlling for tree size. In both species, R decreased with sapwood area and C increased. Our τ results indicate that the loss and replacement of eastern hemlock by black birch will decrease the lag between transpiration and absorption of water from the soil and potentially alter the diurnal pattern of carbon and water uptake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1341-1348
Number of pages8
JournalTree Physiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Birch
  • Capacitance
  • Hemlock
  • Resistance
  • Sap flux
  • Time constant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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