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Nocturnal Water Loss in Mature Subalpine Eucalyptus delegatensis Tall Open Forests and Adjacent E. pauciflora Woodlands

We measured sap flux (S) and environmental variables in four monospecific stands of alpine ash (Eucalyptus delegatensis R. Baker, AA) and snowgum (E. pauciflora Sieb. ex Spreng., SG) in Australia’s Victorian Alps. Nocturnal S was 11.8 ± 0.8% of diel totals.We separated transpiration (E) and refilling components of S using a novel modeling approach based on refilling time constants. The nocturnal fraction of diel water loss (fn) averaged 8.6 ± 0.6% for AA and 9.8 ± 1.7% for SG; fn differed among sites but not species. Evaporative demand (D) was the strongest driver of nocturnal E (En). The ratio En/D (Gn) was positively correlated to soil moisture in most cases, whereas correlations between wind speed and Gn varied widely in sign and strength. Our results suggest (1) the large, mature trees at our subalpine sites have greater fn than the few Australian native tree species that have been studied at lower elevations, (2) AA and SG exhibit similar fn despite very different size and life history, and (3) fn may differ substantially among sites, so future work should be replicated across differing sites.Our novel approach to quantifying fn can be applied to S measurements obtained by any method.

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