• Leaf and whole plant transpiration in honey mesquite following severing of lateral roots

      Ansley, R. J.; Jacoby, P. W.; Hicks, R. A. (Society for Range Management, 1991-11-01)
      This study examined water loss by fully grown honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa var. glandulosa Torr.) trees at 2 levels of resolution, the whole plant (canopy) and the individual leaf. Trees were manipulated by severing lateral roots during winter dormancy. Leaf transpiration and photosynthesis were measured in root-severed and unsevered (control) trees for 2 growing seasons following treatment. An empirical model which integrated leaf transpiration, whole plant leaf area, and influence of shading within the canopy on leaf transpiration was used to calculate daily water loss from individual trees. During the first growing season leaf abscision occurred on root-severed, but not control trees, in early July, resulting in a 50% reduction in whole plant leaf area. Following abscission, transpiration and photosynthesis of remaining leaves on root-severed trees were significantly greater than on control trees from July through September. Because of increased transpiration of remaining leaves on root-severed trees, daily water loss per tree was not significantly different between root-severed and similar-size control trees before or after leaf abscission. No differences in leaf or canopy transpiration were found between root-severed or unsevered honey mesquite during the second growing season. Daily water loss per tree ranged from 30 to 75 liters during the study. These responses illustrate that water loss from mesquite may be regulated by various combinations of stomatal control and adjustment of transpirational surface area.