Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 62, Issue 11, pp 1744–1755 | Cite as

Hysteresis in sap flow and its controlling mechanisms for a deciduous broad-leaved tree species in a humid karst region

  • Rongfei Zhang
  • Xianli XuEmail author
  • Meixian Liu
  • Yaohua Zhang
  • Chaohao Xu
  • Ruzhou Yi
  • Wei Luo
  • Chris Soulsby
Research Paper


The critical zone (CZ) represents the intersection of the biosphere with the atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere. Understanding the hydrological processes and human impact factors on the CZ is fundamental to sustainable water resources management for agroforestry. Transpiration (T) is an important component of terrestrial evapotranspiration (ET), and understanding the time lag (TL) between vegetation transpiration and meteorological factors can improve our knowledge of the mechanisms of vegetation adaptability to a changing environment. However, the controlling factors on the TL remain poorly understood. Therefore, the objective of this study is identifying the temporal dynamics of key controlling factors on the TL, using a typical deciduous broad-leaved tree species (Zenia insigins Chun) of CZ in subtropical humid karst regions. This species is used as an example to explore the characteristics of the TL between SF (sap flow) and hydro-meteorological forcing. Sap flow in these 6 trees was monitored using the thermal dissipation probes (TDP). Results showed that: (1) the peak of diurnal sap flow generally lagged behind PAR but preceded Ta (air temperature), RH (relative humidity) and VPD (vapor pressure deficit), with the mean TL of −67.4 min (PAR), 90.5 min (Ta), 91.6 min (RH) and 92.9 min (VPD), respectively; (2) TL had no significant relationships with the daily mean meteorological factors and soil moisture, but was highly (R2>0.66) correlated to CRs (changing rates of meteorological factors) in the morning; (3) At seasonal scale, the sap flow rate and TL both were controlled by the seasonality of precipitation and temperature. Overall, the seasonality of the TL was caused by plants’ high water loss and strongly active physiological response in hot seasons, leading to close stomata earlier than in cold seasons; (4) The reason why CRs proposed can explain the TL better than mean values of metrological factors is that the CRs considered the distribution and change processes of metrological factors in the daytime. This study may be helpful for understanding the physiological response of vegetation to climatic change, and may be useful for constructing models to simulate transpiration processes more accurately during a day.


Eco-hydrology Soil hydrology Landscape ecology Earth’s critical zone 



We thank two anonymous reviewers. This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41571130073 & 41501042), the Youth Innovation Team Project of ISA, CAS (Grant No. 2017QNCXTD_XXL), and the CAS Interdisciplinary Innovation Team.


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rongfei Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Xianli Xu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Meixian Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yaohua Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Chaohao Xu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ruzhou Yi
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Wei Luo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Chris Soulsby
    • 4
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Agro-ecological Processes in Subtropical Region, Institute of Subtropical AgricultureChinese Academy of SciencesChangshaChina
  2. 2.Huanjiang Observation and Research Station for Karst EcosystemChinese Academy of SciencesHuanjiangChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Northern Rivers Institute, School of GeosciencesUniversity of AberdeenAberdeen, ScotlandUK

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