Fine-resolution studies of stem radial variation over short timescales throughout the year can provide insight into intra-annual stem dynamics and improve our understanding of climate impacts on tree physiology and growth processes. Using data from high-resolution point dendrometers collected from Platycladus orientalis
(Linn.) trees between September 2013 and December 2014, this study investigated the daily and seasonal patterns of stem radial variation in addition to the relationships between daily stem radial variation and environmental factors over the growing season. Two contrasting daily cycle patterns were observed for warm and cold seasons. A daily mean air temperature of 0 °C was a critical threshold that was related to seasonal shifts in stem diurnal cycle patterns, indicating that air temperature critically influences diurnal stem cycles. The annual variation in P. orientalis
stem radius variation can be divided into four distinct periods including (1) spring rehydration, (2) the summer growing season, (3) autumn stagnation, and (4) winter contraction. These periods reflect seasonal changes in tree water status that are especially pronounced in spring and winter. During the growing season, the maximum daily shrinkage (MDS) of P. orientalis
was positively correlated with air temperature (Ta
) and negatively correlated with soil water content (SWC) and precipitation (P). The vapor pressure deficit (VPD) also exhibited a threshold-based control on MDS at values below or above 0.8 kPa. Daily radial changes (DRC) were negatively correlated with Ta
and VPD but positively correlated with relative air humidity (RH) and P. These results suggest that the above environmental factors are associated with tree water status via their influence on moisture availability to trees, which in turn affects the metrics of daily stem variation including MDS and DRC.
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