Tree Water Status Affects Tree Branch Position

Samuli Junttila*, Mariana Campos, Teemu Hölttä, Lauri Lindfors, Aimad El Issaoui, Mikko Vastaranta, Hannu Hyyppä, Eetu Puttonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
47 Downloads (Pure)


Physiological processes cause movements of tree stems and branches that occur in a circadian rhythm and over longer time periods, but there is a lack of quantitative understanding of the cause-and-effect relationships. We investigated the movement of tree branches in a long-term drought experiment and at a circadian time scale using time-series of terrestrial laser scanning measurements coupled with measurements of environmental drivers and tree water status. Our results showed that movement of branches was largely explained by leaf water status measured as leaf water potential in a controlled environment for both measured trees (R2 = 0.86 and R2 = 0.75). Our hypothesis is that changes in leaf and branch water status would cause branch movements was further supported by strong relationship between vapor pressure deficit and overnight branch movement (R2 = [0.57–0.74]). Due to lower atmospheric water demand during the nighttime, tree branches settle down as the amount of water in leaves increases. The results indicate that the quantified movement of tree branches could help us to further monitor and understand the water relations of tree communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number728
Number of pages14
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • diurnal branch movement
  • diurnal cycles
  • drought
  • leaf water content
  • leaf water potential
  • relative water content
  • terrestrial laser scanning
  • tree monitoring
  • vapour pressure deficit (VPD)


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