Foggy days and dry nights determine crown-level water balance in a seasonal tropical montane cloud forest

Sybil G. Gotsch, Heidi Asbjornsen, Friso Holwerda, Gregory R. Goldsmith, Alexis E. Weintraub, Todd E. Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


The ecophysiology of tropical montane cloud forest (TMCF) trees is influenced by crown-level microclimate factors including regular mist/fog water inputs, and large variations in evaporative demand, which in turn can significantly impact water balance. We investigated the effect of such microclimatic factors on canopy ecophysiology and branch-level water balance in the dry season of a seasonal TMCF in Veracruz, Mexico, by quantifying both water inputs (via foliar uptake, FU) and outputs (day- and night-time transpiration, NT). Measurements of sap flow, stomatal conductance, leaf water potential and pressure-volume relations were obtained in Quercus lanceifolia, a canopy-dominant tree species. Our results indicate that FU occurred 34% of the time and led to the recovery of 9% (24±9.1L) of all the dry-season water transpired from individual branches. Capacity for FU was independently verified for seven additional common tree species. NT accounted for approximately 17% (46L) of dry-season water loss. There was a strong correlation between FU and the duration of leaf wetness events (fog and/or rain), as well as between NT and the night-time vapour pressure deficit. Our results show the clear importance of fog and NT for the canopy water relations of Q. lanceifolia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-272
Number of pages12
JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Canopy ecophysiology
  • Canopy microclimate
  • Environmental drivers of transpiration
  • Evaporative demand
  • Fog
  • Heat pulse technique
  • Mexico
  • Quercus lanceifolia
  • Sap flow
  • Seasonality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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