Transpiration in a small tropical forest patch
A field study was conducted of microclimate and transpiration within a 12 ha patch of advanced secondary forest surrounded by active or recently abandoned swidden fields. Differences in microclimate among stations located within and near the patch, give evidence of the effects of the adjacent clearing on the environment in the patch. Volumetric soil moisture content at the end of the dry season was lowest at the two edge sites, suggesting greater cumulative dry season evapotranspiration (ET) there than at swidden and forest interior sites. Total evaporation, based on energy balance methods, was also higher at the two edge sites than at the swidden or forest interior sites. Spatial differences in evaporation decreased as conditions became wetter. Measurements of sap flow in nine trees near the southwestern edge of the patch and nine trees in the patch interior indicate considerable variability in transpiration among the three monitored tree species, Vernicia montana, Alphonsea tonkinensis, and Garcinia planchonii. Dry-period transpiration averaged about 39 and 43% of total evaporation for edge and interior trees, respectively, increasing to 60 and 68% after the start of rains. Transpiration in both zones was well-correlated with micrometeorological conditions in the adjacent clearing, implying that transpiration edge effect is greatest when conditions are favorable for high positive heat advection from the clearing to the forest edge. Transpiration rates of well-exposed trees were higher than poorly-exposed trees, and decreased with distance from the edge at a statistically significant rate of -0.0135 mm per day m-1. Although the results on the strength of transpiration edge effect are somewhat equivocal due to variability within the small sample, there is clear evidence that ET within the patch is influenced by the surrounding clearings. If edges experience higher ET, greater fragmentation would result in higher regional evaporative flux, which would partly compensate for the reduction in regional ET due to deforestation. © 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.