The importance of tree internal water storage under drought conditions

Yakir Preisler*, Teemu Hölttä*, José M. Grünzweig, Itay Oz, Fedor Tatarinov, Nadine K. Ruehr, Eyal Rotenberg, Dan Yakir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Global warming and drying trends, as well as the increase in frequency and intensity of droughts, may have unprecedented impacts on various forest ecosystems. We assessed the role of internal water storage (WS) in drought resistance of mature pine trees in the semi-arid Yatir Forest. Transpiration (T), soil moisture and sap flow (SF) were measured continuously, accompanied by periodical measurements of leaf and branch water potential (ψleaf) and water content (WC). The data were used to parameterize a tree hydraulics model to examine the impact of WS capacitance on the tree water relations. The results of the continuous measurements showed a 5-h time lag between T and SF in the dry season, which peaked in the early morning and early afternoon, respectively. A good fit between model results and observations was only obtained when the empirically estimated WS capacitance was included in the model. Without WS during the dry season, ψleaf would drop below a threshold known to cause hydraulic failure and cessation of gas exchange in the studied tree species. Our results indicate that tree WS capacitance is a key drought resistance trait that could enhance tree survival in a drying climate, contributing up to 45% of the total daily transpiration during the dry season.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)771-783
Number of pages13
JournalTree Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

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© 2021 The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


  • capacitance
  • pine trees
  • sap flow
  • semi-arid forest
  • transpiration
  • tree hydraulic model
  • tree mortality
  • water potential
  • Plant Transpiration
  • Trees
  • Water
  • Forests
  • Droughts
  • Ecosystem


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