Canopy Hydrometeorological Dynamics Across a Chronosequence of a Globally Invasive Species, Ailanthus Altissima (Mill., Tree of Heaven)

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Hydrological Processes




Many mechanisms aid invasive plants’ competitive interactions. Yet, the extent to which invasive plants alter canopy hydrometeorological mechanisms determining the quantity and distribution of rainwater resources to soils have never been assessed. We examine these mechanisms for a global invader, Ailanthus altissima, across an invasion chronosequence (stands aged 20, 30, 40 years) for 99 storms, each with ∼200 net rainfall observations. With age woody area index, ratio of wet canopy evaporation and rainfall rates, and stem drainage coefficient increased; while leaf area index, canopy water storage, and gap fraction declined. This corresponded to increased stemflow and decreased throughfall across annual, seasonal, and interstorm scales. Promotion of stemflow may be advantageous to the invasive species as it increases water supply to roots and may help distribute allelopathic chemicals through the soil. Further research is needed on relationships between canopy hydrometeorological changes during invasion and redistribution of water to soils.