Please wait a minute...
Journal of Arid Land  2017, Vol. 9 Issue (4): 515-529    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0024-4
Orginal Article     
Time lag characteristics of sap flow in seed-maize and their implications for modeling transpiration in an arid region of Northwest China
Xiaodong BO1, Taisheng DU1,*(), Risheng DING1, COMAS Louise2
1 Center for Agricultural Water Research in China, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China
2 Water Management Research, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Building 011A, BARC-West, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA
Download: HTML     PDF(1025KB)
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      


Plant capacity for water storage leads to time lags between basal stem sap flow and transpiration in various woody plants. Internal water storage depends on the sizes of woody plants. However, the changes and its influencing factors in time lags of basal stem flow during the development of herbaceous plants including crops remain unclear. A field experiment was conducted in an arid region of Northwest China to examine the time lag characteristics of sap flow in seed-maize and to calibrate the transpiration modeling. Cross-correlation analysis was used to estimate the time lags between stem sap flow and meteorological driving factors including solar radiation (Rs) and vapor pressure deficit of the air (VPDair). Results indicate that the changes in seed-maize stem sap flow consistently lagged behind the changes in Rs and preceded the changes in VPDair both on hourly and daily scales, suggesting that light-mediated stomatal closures drove sap flow responses. The time lag in the maize’s sap flow differed significantly during different growth stages and the difference was potentially due to developmental changes in capacitance tissue and/or xylem during ontogenesis. The time lags between stem sap flow and Rs in both female plants and male plants corresponded to plant use of stored water and were independent of total plant water use. Time lags of sap flow were always longer in male plants than in female plants. Theoretically, dry soil may decrease the speed by which sap flow adjusts ahead of shifts in VPDair in comparison with wet soil and also increase the speed by which sap flow adjusts to Rs. However, sap flow lags that were associated with Rs before irrigation and after irrigation in female plants did not shift. Time series analysis method provided better results for simulating seed-maize sap flow with advantages of allowing for fewer variables to be included. This approach would be helpful in improving the accuracy of estimation for canopy transpiration and conductance using meteorological measurements.

Key wordsseed-maize      sap flow      capacitance      transfer function model      time lag      stored water use     
Received: 23 March 2016      Published: 10 August 2017
Corresponding Authors: Taisheng DU     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Xiaodong BO, Taisheng DU, Risheng DING, COMAS Louise. Time lag characteristics of sap flow in seed-maize and their implications for modeling transpiration in an arid region of Northwest China. Journal of Arid Land, 2017, 9(4): 515-529.

URL:     OR

1 Alarcón J J, Domingo R, Green S R, et al.2003. Estimation of hydraulic conductance within field-grown apricot using sap flow measurements. Plant and Soil, 251(1): 125-135.
2 Allen R G, Pereira L S, Raes D, et al.1998. Crop evapotranspiration—guidelines for computing crop water requirement. In: FAO Irrig and Drain Paper No. 56. Rome, Italy.
3 Baker J M, van Bavel C H M.1987. Measurement of mass flow of water in the stems of herbaceous plants. Plant, Cell & Environment, 10(9): 777-782.
4 Bauerle W L, Post C J, McLeod M F, et al.2002. Measurement and modeling of the transpiration of a temperate red maple container nursery. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 114(1-2): 45-57.
5 Berbigier P, Bonnefond J M, Loustau D, et al.1996. Transpiration of a 64-year old maritime pine stand in Portugal. Oecologia, 107(1): 43-52.
6 Bo X D, Du T S, Ding R S, et al.2015. Stem flow of seed-maize under alternate furrow irrigation and double-row ridge planting in an arid region of Northwest China. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 14(7): 1434-1445.
7 Borchert R.1994. Soil and stem water storage determine phenology and distribution of tropical dry forest trees. Ecology, 75(5): 1437-1449.
8 Box G E P, Jenkins G M.1976. Time Series Analysis: Forecasting and Control. Oakland: Holden-Day, 7-19.
9 Braun P, Schmid J.1999. Sap flow measurements in grapevines (Vitis vinifera L.) 2. Granier measurements. Plant and Soil, 215(1): 47-55.
10 ?ermák J, Ku?era J, Penka M.1976. Improvement of the method of sap flow rate determination in full-grown trees based on heat balance with direct electric heating of xylem. Biologia Plantarum, 18(2): 105-110.
11 ?ermák J, úlehla J, Ku?era J, et al.1982. Sap flow rate and transpiration dynamics in the full-grown oak (Quercus robus L.) in floodplain forest exposed to seasonal floods as related to potential evapotranspiration and tree dimensions. Biologia Plantarum, 24(6): 446-460.
12 ?ermák J, Cienciala E, Ku?era J, et al.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(1-4): 17-27.
13 ?ermák J, Ku?era J, Bauerle W L, et al.2007. Tree water storage and its diurnal dynamics related to sap flow and changes in stem volume in old-growth Douglas-fir trees. Tree Physiology, 27(2): 181-198.
14 Chang X X, Zhao W Z, Zhang Z H, et al.2006. Sap flow and tree conductance of shelter-belt in arid region of China. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 138(1-4): 132-141.
15 Chen L X, Zhang Z Q, Li Z D, et al.2011. Biophysical control of whole tree transpiration under an urban environment in Northern China. Journal of Hydrology, 402(3-4): 388-400.
16 Chirino E, Bellot J, Sánchez J R.2011. Daily sap flow rate as an indicator of drought avoidance mechanisms in five Mediterranean perennial species in semi-arid southeastern Spain. Trees, 25(4): 593-606.
17 Chuang Y L, Oren R, Bertozzi A L, et al.2006. The porous media model for the hydraulic system of a conifer tree: linking sap flux data to transpiration rate. Ecological Modelling, 191(3-4): 447-468.
18 Cienciala E, Eckersten H, Lindroth A, et al.1994. Simulated and measured water uptake by Picea abies under non-limiting soil water conditions. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 71(1-2): 147-164.
19 Corona R, Curreli M, Montaldo N, et al.2013. On the estimate of the transpiration in Mediterranean heterogeneous ecosystems with the coupled use of eddy covariance and sap flow techniques. In: EGU General Assembly 2013. Vienna, Austria: EGU, 15: 11449.
20 Cuevas M V, Martín-Palomo M J, Diaz-Espejo A, et al.2013. Assessing water stress in a hedgerow olive orchard from sap flow and trunk diameter measurements. Irrigation Science, 31(4): 729-746.
21 Davies W J, Zhang J H, Yang J, et al.2011. Novel crop science to improve yield and resource use efficiency in water-limited agriculture. The Journal of Agricultural Science, 149(Suppl.): 123-131.
22 De Swaef T, Verbist K, Cornelis W, et al.2012. Tomato sap flow, stem and fruit growth in relation to water availability in rockwool growing medium. Plant and Soil, 350(1-2): 237-252.
23 Diawara A, Loustau D, Berbigier P.1991. Comparison of two methods for estimating the evaporation of a Pinus pinaster (Ait.) stand: sap flow and energy balance with sensible heat flux measurements by an eddy covariance method. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 54(1): 49-66.
24 Dragoni D, Caylor K K, Schmid H P.2009. Decoupling structural and environmental determinants of sap velocity: part II. observational application. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 149(3-4): 570-581.
25 Dry P R, Loveys B R.1998. Factors influencing grapevine vigour and the potential for control with partial rootzone drying. Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research, 4(3): 140-148.
26 Du T S, Kang S Z, Zhang J H, et al.2015. Deficit irrigation and sustainable water-resource strategies in agriculture for China’s food security. Journal of Experimental Botany, 66(8): 2253-2269.
27 Dye P J, Olbrich B W.1993. Estimating transpiration from 6-year-old Eucalyptus grandis trees: development of a canopy conductance model and comparison with independent sap flux measurements. Plant, Cell & Environment, 16(1): 45-53.
28 Dzikiti S, Steppe K, Lemeur R, et al.2007. Whole-tree level water balance and its implications on stomatal oscillations in orange trees [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck] under natural climatic conditions. Journal of Experimental Botany, 58(7): 1893-1901.
29 Edwards W R N, Jarvis P G, Landsberg J J, et al.1986. A dynamic model for studying flow of water in single trees. Tree Physiology, 1(3): 309-324.
30 Ewers B E, Oren R.2000. Analyses of assumptions and errors in the calculation of stomatal conductance from sap flux measurements. Tree Physiology, 20(9): 579-589.
31 Ford C R, Goranson C E, Mitchell R J, et al.2004. Diurnal and seasonal variability in the radial distribution of sap flow: predicting total stem flow in Pinus taeda trees. Tree Physiology, 24(9): 951-960.
32 Ford C R, Goranson C E, Mitchell R J, et al.2005. Modeling canopy transpiration using time series analysis: a case study illustrating the effect of soil moisture deficit on Pinus taeda. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 130(3-4): 163-175.
33 Goldstein G, Meinzer F, Monasterio M.1984. The role of capacitance in the water balance of Andean giant rosette species. Plant, Cell & Environment, 7(3): 179-186.
34 Goldstein G, Andrade J L, Meinzer F C, et al.1998. Stem water storage and diurnal patterns of water use in tropical forest canopy trees. Plant, Cell & Environment, 21(4): 397-406.
35 Gong D Z, Kang S Z, Yao L M, et al.2007. Estimation of evapotranspiration and its components from an apple orchard in northwest China using sap flow and water balance methods. Hydrological Processes, 21(7): 931-938.
36 Granier A, Bobay V, Gash J H C, et al.1990. Vapour flux density and transpiration rate comparisons in a stand of Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster Ait.) in Les Landes forest. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 51(3-4): 309-319.
37 Granier A, Loustau D.1994. Measuring and modelling the transpiration of a maritime pine canopy from sap-flow data. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 71(1-2): 61-81.
38 Granier A, Bréda N.1996. Modelling canopy conductance and stand transpiration of an oak forest from sap flow measurements. Annales des Sciences Forestières, 53(2-3): 537-546.
39 Granier A, Biron P, Lemoine D.2000. Water balance, transpiration and canopy conductance in two beech stands. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 100(4): 291-308.
40 Hinckley T M, Lassoie J P, Running S W.1978. Temporal and spatial variations in the water status of forest trees. Forest Science, 24(3): a0001-z0001.
41 Hinckley T M, Sprugel D G, Brooks J R.1998. Scaling and Integration in trees. In: Peterson D L, Parker V T. Ecological Scale: Theory and Applications. New York: Columbia University Press, 309-337.
42 Hogg E H, Black T A, den Hartog G, et al.1997. A comparison of sap flow and eddy fluxes of water vapor from a boreal deciduous forest. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres (1984-2012), 102(D24): 28929-28937.
43 Hunt E R, Nobel P S.1987. Non-steady-state water flow for three desert perennials with different capacitances. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology, 14(4): 363-375.
44 Kjelgaard J F, Stockle C O, Black R A, et al.1997. Measuring sap flow with the heat balance approach using constant and variable heat inputs. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 85(3-4): 239-250.
45 K?stner B M M, Schulze E D, Kelliher F M, et al.1992. Transpiration and canopy conductance in a pristine broad-leaved forest of Nothofagus: an analysis of xylem sap flow and eddy correlation measurements. Oecologia, 91(3): 350-359.
46 Kumagai T.2001. Modeling water transportation and storage in sapwood—model development and validation. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 109(2): 105-115.
47 Kume T, Komatsu H, Kuraji K, et al.2008. Less than 20-min time lags between transpiration and stem sap flow in emergent trees in a Bornean tropical rainforest. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 148(6-7): 1181-1189.
48 Kume T, Onozawa Y, Komatsu H, et al.2010. Stand-scale transpiration estimates in a Moso bamboo forest: (I) applicability of sap flux measurements. Forest Ecology and Management, 260(8): 1287-1294.
49 Kume T, Otsuki K, Du S, et al.2012. Spatial variation in sap flow velocity in semiarid region trees: its impact on stand-scale transpiration estimates. Hydrological Processes, 26(8): 1161-1168.
50 Landsberg J J, Blanchard T W, Warrit B.1976. Studies on the movement of water through apple trees. Journal of Experimental Botany, 27(4): 579-596.
51 Lhomme J P, Rocheteau A, Ourcival J M, et al.2001. Non-steady-state modelling of water transfer in a Mediterranean evergreen canopy. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 108(1): 67-83.
52 Liu H J, Cohen S, Lemcoff J H, et al.2015. Sap flow, canopy conductance and microclimate in a banana screenhouse. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 201: 165-175.
53 Maherali H, DeLucia E H.2001. Influence of climate-driven shifts in biomass allocation on water transport and storage in ponderosa pine. Oecologia, 129(4): 481-491.
54 Martin T A, Brown K J, Cermák J, et al.1997. Crown conductance and tree and stand transpiration in a second-growth Abies amabilis forest. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 27(6): 797-808.
55 Martin T A, Brown K J, Ku?era J, et al.2001. Control of transpiration in a 220-year-old Abies amabilis forest. Forest Ecology and Management, 152(1-3): 211-224.
56 Meinzer F C, Goldstein G, Holbrook N M, et al.1993. Stomatal and environmental control of transpiration in a lowland tropical forest tree. Plant, Cell & Environment, 16(4): 429-436.
57 Meinzer F C, James S A, Goldstein G.2004. Dynamics of transpiration, sap flow and use of stored water in tropical forest canopy trees. Tree Physiology, 24(8): 901-909.
58 Meinzer F C, Woodruff D R, Domec J C, et al.2008. Coordination of leaf and stem water transport properties in tropical forest trees. Oecologia, 156(1): 31-41.
59 Morikawa Y.1974. Sap flow in Chamaecyparis obtusa in relation to water economy of woody plants. Bulletin of the Tokyo University Forests, 66: 251-297.
60 Motzer T, Munz N, Küppers M, et al.2005. Stomatal conductance, transpiration and sap flow of tropical montane rain forest trees in the southern Ecuadorian Andes. Tree Physiology, 25(10): 1283-1293.
61 Nash J E, Sutcliffe J V.1970. River flow forecasting through conceptual models part I-a discussion of principles. Journal of Hydrology, 10(3): 282-290.
62 Nicolas E, Torrecillas A, Ortu?o M F, et al.2005. Evaluation of transpiration in adult apricot trees from sap flow measurements. Agricultural Water Management, 72(2): 131-145.
63 O’Brien J J, Oberbauer S F, Clark D B.2004. Whole tree xylem sap flow responses to multiple environmental variables in a wet tropical forest. Plant, Cell & Environment, 27(5): 551-567.
64 Oguntunde P G.2005. Whole-plant water use and canopy conductance of cassava under limited available soil water and varying evaporative demand. Plant and Soil, 278(1-2): 371-383.
65 Oren R, Zimmermann R, Terborgh J.1996. Transpiration in upper Amazonia floodplain and upland forests in response to drought-breaking rains. Ecology, 77(3): 968-973.
66 Oren R, Sperry J S, Katul G G, et al.1999. Survey and synthesis of intra- and interspecific variation in stomatal sensitivity to vapour pressure deficit. Plant, Cell & Environment, 22(12): 1515-1526.
67 Paudel I, Naor A, Gal Y, et al.2015. Simulating nectarine tree transpiration and dynamic water storage from responses of leaf conductance to light and sap flow to stem water potential and vapor pressure deficit. Tree Physiology, 35(4): 425-438.
68 Per?m?ki M, Nikinmaa E, Sevanto S, et al.2001. Tree stem diameter variations and transpiration in Scots pine: an analysis using a dynamic sap flow model. Tree Physiology, 21(12-13): 889-897.
69 Phillips N, Nagchaudhuri A, Oren R, et al.1997. Time constant for water transport in loblolly pine trees estimated from time series of evaporative demand and stem sapflow. Trees, 11(7): 412-419.
70 Phillips N, Oren R, Zimmermann R, et al.1999. Temporal patterns of water flux in trees and lianas in a Panamanian moist forest. Trees, 14(3): 116-123.
71 Phillips N G, Ryan M G, Bond B J, et al.2003. Reliance on stored water increases with tree size in three species in the Pacific Northwest. Tree Physiology, 23(4): 237-245.
72 Phillips N G, Scholz F G, Bucci S J, et al.2009. Using branch and basal trunk sap flow measurements to estimate whole-plant water capacitance: comment on Burgess and Dawson (2008). Plant and Soil, 315(1-2): 315-324.
73 Sakuratani T.1981. A heat balance method for measuring water flux in the stem of intact plants. Journal of Agricultural Meteorology, 37(1): 9-17.
74 Sala A, Tenhunen J D.1996. Simulations of canopy net photosynthesis and transpiration in Quercus ilex L. under the influence of seasonal drought. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 78(3-4): 203-222.
75 Saugier B, Granier A, Pontailler J Y, et al.1997. Transpiration of a boreal pine forest measured by branch bag, sap flow and micrometeorological methods. Tree Physiology, 17(8-9): 511-519.
76 Schulte E D.1993. Tissue hydraulic properties and the water relations of desert shrubs. In: Smith J A C, Griffiths H. Water Deficits, Plant Responses from Cell to Community. Environmental Plant Biology Series. Oxford: Bios Scientific Press Ltd., 177-192.
77 Schulze E D, ?ermák J, Matyssek M, et al.1985. Canopy transpiration and water fluxes in the xylem of the trunk of Larix and Picea trees-a comparison of xylem flow, porometer and cuvette measurements. Oecologia, 66(4): 475-483.
78 Sellami M H, Sifaoui M S.2003. Estimating transpiration in an intercropping system: measuring sap flow inside the oasis. Agricultural Water Management, 59(3): 191-204.
79 Sperry J S, Pockman W T.1993. Limitation of transpiration by hydraulic conductance and xylem cavitation in Betula occidentalis. Plant, Cell & Environment, 16(3): 279-287.
80 Steinberg S L, Mcfarland M J, Worthington J W.1990. Comparison of trunk and branch sap flow with canopy transpiration in pecan. Journal of Experimental Botany, 41(6): 653-659.
81 Steppe K, Lemeur R.2004. An experimental system for analysis of the dynamic sap-flow characteristics in young trees: results of a beech tree. Functional Plant Biology, 31(1): 83-92.
82 Steppe K, De Pauw D J W, Doody T M, et al.2010. A comparison of sap flux density using thermal dissipation, heat pulse velocity and heat field deformation methods. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 150(7-8): 1046-1056.
83 Stewart C M.1967. Moisture content of living trees. Nature, 214(5084): 138-140.
84 Stratton L, Goldstein G, Meinzer F C.2000. Stem water storage capacity and efficiency of water transport: their functional significance in a Hawaiian dry forest. Plant, Cell & Environment, 23(1): 99-106.
85 Trambouze W, Bertuzzi P, Voltz M.1998. Comparison of methods for estimating actual evapotranspiration in a row-cropped vineyard. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 91(3-4): 193-208.
86 Tyree M T, Yang S D.1990. Water-storage capacity of Thuja, Tsuga and Acer stems measured by dehydration isotherms. Planta, 182(3): 420-426.
87 Vellame L M, Coelho Filho M A, Paz V P S, et al.2010. Stem heat balance method to estimate transpiration of young orange and mango plants. Revista Brasileira de Engenharia Agrícola e Ambiental, 14(6): 594-599.
88 Villalobos F J, Testi L, Orgaz F, et al.2013. Modelling canopy conductance and transpiration of fruit trees in Mediterranean areas: a simplified approach. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 171-172: 93-103.
89 Wang H, Zhao P, Cai X A, et al.2008. Time lag effect between stem sap flow and photosynthetically active radiation, vapor pressure deficit of Acacia mangium. Chinese Journal of Applied Ecology, 19(2): 225-230. (in Chinese)
90 Wang S G.2013. Plant Physiology. Beijing: Science Press, 68-69. (in Chinese)
91 Wullschleger S D, Meinzer F C, Vertessy R A.1998. A review of whole-plant water use studies in tree. Tree Physiology, 18(8-9): 499-512.
92 Zeppel M J B, Macinnis-Ng C M O, Yunusa I A M, et al.2008. Long term trends of stand transpiration in a remnant forest during wet and dry years. Journal of Hydrology, 349(1-2): 200-213.
[1] DANG Hongzhong, ZHANG Lizhen, YANG Wenbin, FENG Jinchao, HAN Hui, CHEN Yiben. Severe drought strongly reduces water use and its recovery ability of mature Mongolian Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica Litv.) in a semi-arid sandy environment of northern China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(6): 880-891.
[2] Yakun TANG, Xu WU, Yunming CHEN. Sap flow characteristics and physiological adjustments of two dominant tree species in pure and mixed plantations in the semi-arid Loess Plateau of China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(6): 833-849.
[3] Xuewen GONG, Hao LIU, Jingsheng SUN, Yang GAO, Xiaoxian ZHANG, K JHA Shiva, Hao ZHANG, Xiaojian MA, Wanning WANG. A proposed surface resistance model for the Penman-Monteith formula to estimate evapotranspiration in a solar greenhouse[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2017, 9(4): 530-546.
[4] LI Wei, SI Jianhua, YU Tengfei, LI Xiaoyan. Response of Populus euphratica Oliv. sap flow to environmental variables for a desert riparian forest in the Heihe River Basin, Northwest China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(4): 591-603.
[5] ZHAO Wenzhi, JI Xibin. Spatio-temporal variation in transpiration responses of maize plants to vapor pressure deficit under an arid climatic condition[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(3): 409-421.
[6] SI Jianhua, FENG Qi, YU Tengfei, ZHAO Chunyan. Nighttime sap flow and its driving forces for Populus euphratica in a desert riparian forest, Northwest China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2015, 7(5): 665-674.
[7] HongZhong DANG, TianShan ZHA, JinSong ZHANG, Wei LI, ShiZeng LIU. Radial profile of sap flow velocity in mature Xinjiang poplar (Populus alba L. var. pyramidalis) in Northwest China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2014, 6(5): 612-627.
[8] TengFei YU, Qi FENG, JianHua SI, HaiYang XI, Wei LI. Patterns, magnitude, and controlling factors of hydraulic redistribution of soil water by Tamarix ramosissima roots[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2013, 5(3): 396-407.
[9] LiShan SHAN, Yi LI, RuiFeng ZHAO, XiMing ZHANG. Effects of deficit irrigation on daily and seasonal variations of trunk sap flow and its growth in Calligonum arborescens[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2013, 5(2): 233-243.