Biological and environmental controls on tree transpiration in a suburban landscape



[1] Tree transpiration provides a variety of ecosystem services in urban areas, including amelioration of urban heat island effects and storm water management. Tree species vary in the magnitude and seasonality of transpiration owing to differences in physiology, response to climate, and biophysical characteristics, thereby complicating efforts to manage evapotranspiration at city scales. We report sap flux measurements during the 2007 and 2008 growing seasons for dominant tree species in a suburban neighborhood of Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA. Evergreen needleleaf trees had significantly higher growing season means and annual transpiration per unit canopy area (1.90 kg H2O m−2 d−1 and 307 kg H2O m−2 yr−1, respectively) than deciduous broadleaf trees (1.11 kg H2O m−2 d−1 and 153 kg H2O m−2 yr−1, respectively) because of a smaller projected canopy area (31.1 and 73.6 m2, respectively), a higher leaf area index (8.8 and 5.5 m2 m−2, respectively), and a longer growth season (8 and 4 months, respectively). Measurements also showed patterns consistent with the species' differences in xylem anatomy (conifer, ring porous, and diffuse porous). As the growing season progressed, conifer and diffuse porous genera had increased stomatal regulation to high vapor pressure deficit, while ring porous genera maintained greater and more constant stomatal regulation. These results suggest that evaporative responses to climate change in urban ecosystems will depend in part on species composition. Overall, plant functional type differences in canopy structure and growing season length were most important in explaining species' differences in midsummer and annual transpiration, offering an approach to predicting the evapotranspiration component of urban water budgets.