Hydrological properties of bark of selected forest tree species. Part 2: Interspecific variability of bark water storage capacity

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The subject of the present research is the water storage capacity of bark of seven forest tree species: Pinus sylvestris L., Larix decidua Mill., Abies alba Mill., Pinus sylvestris L., Quercus robur L., Betula pendula Ehrh. and Fagus sylvatica L. The aim of the research is to demonstrate differences in the formation of bark water storage capacity between species and to identify factors influencing the hydrological properties of bark. The maximum water storage capacity of bark was determined under laboratory conditions by performing a series of experiments simulating rainfall and by immersing bark samples in containers filled with water. After each single experiment, the bark samples were subjected to gravity filtration in a desiccator partially filled with water. The experiments lasted from 1084 to 1389 hours, depending on the bark sample. In all the studied species, bark sampled from the thinnest trees is characterized by the highest water storage capacity expressed in mm H2O · cm-3, while bark sampled from the thickest trees - by the lowest capacity. On the other hand, bark sampled from the thickest trees is characterized by the highest water storage capacity expressed in H2O · cm-2 whereas bark from the thinnest trees - by the lowest capacity. In most species tested, as the tree thickness and thus the bark thickness and the coefficient of development of the interception surface of bark increase, the sorption properties of the bark decrease with bark depth, and the main role in water retention is played by the outer bark surface. The bark of European beech is an exception because of the smallest degree of surface development and because the dominant process is the absorption of water. When examining the hydrological properties of bark and calculating its parameters, one needs to take into account the actual surface of the bark of trees. Disregarding the actual bark surface may lead to significant errors in the interpretation of research results.

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