Transpiration and water use of several hardwood species in Appalachian forest

Principal Investigator
Dr. Rico M. Gazal
Professor and Chair
Department of Land Resources
Glenville State College

The Appalachian forest is one of the most diverse and productive ecosystems in the northeastern United States. It has been the subject of numerous research studies on watershed management, biodiversity conservation, logging and other silvicultural practices. However, only a few limited studies have attempted to quantify water consumption of mixed hardwood trees and their contribution to forest water balance. Understanding the ability to compete for water resources and the differential utilization of water by plants without the destructive excavation of roots needs to be explored in this ecosystem. The use of sap flow gauges to quantify water use can therefore be indispensable tool in further exploration of the impacts of vegetation communities on the productivity of Appalachian forest. The main objective of this study is to estimate daily and seasonal water use by several mature oak species in a mixed hardwood forest. The study is important in characterizing the contribution of the mixed hardwood trees on the hydrology or water balance of Appalachian forest.

The site selected for this project is a relatively dry site with west facing slope, 30-37% average slope and approximately 300 m in elevation. The sapwood area is an important parameter in scaling the sap flow estimates to total water use. The probe was inserted into the sapwood at a depth of 30 mm using a drill bit and covered with a reflective bubble wrap for insulation.