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    Sap flow sensors are uniquely able to continuously monitor whole tree physiology. Recently, Burgess and Dawson (Burgess SSO, Dawson TE, Plant Soil 305:5-13, 2008) urged caution in using sap flow probes to estimate water storage use in trees. Here we respond to three criticisms raised there: (1) sampling: that tree water storage, estimated from branch-bole sap flow lags, was compromised by unaccounted variation in branch position and orientation; (2) instrumentation: that sap flow sensor response times may be sensor artifacts rather than manifestations of tree water storage; and (3) theory: that tree water storage estimates are based on a faulty concept of lag phenomena in sap flow that persists in the literature. We agree with the need for caution in sap flow-based estimates of plant water storage, but here correct flaws in arguments and representations of studies presented in Burgess and Dawson (Burgess SSO, Dawson TE, Plant Soil 305:5-13, 2008).

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    Phillips, Nathan G.; Scholtz, Fabian G.; Bucci, Sandra J.; Goldstein, Guillermo; Meinzer, Frederick C. 2009. Using branch and basal trunk sap flow measurements to estimate whole-plant water capacitance: comment on Burgess and Dawson (2008). Plant Soil. 315:315-324.


    Hydraulic capacitance, stem water storage, cohesion-tension theory, sap flow techniques

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