A novel framework to study the effect of tree architectural traits on stemflow yield and its consequences for soil-water dynamics

Alejandro Gonzalez-Ollauri*, Alexia Stokes, Slobodan B. Mickovski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A novel experimental approach and numerical framework are proposed to study the effect of tree architectural traits on stemflow yield and its effects on soil-water dynamics. The framework includes a data mining workflow employing information from two experimental steps: (i) evaluation of the effect of tree aboveground architecture on stemflow yield and (ii) quantification of specific parameters for soil-water dynamics with and without stemflow. We studied double-funnelling (stemflow and root-induced preferential flow) under three sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus L.) trees growing on a slope in Scotland during the summer season and measured architectural traits. Stemflow yield ranged from 1.3 to 3.8 % of the incident rainfall, with funnelling ratios of between 2.22.1 and 5.23.9. Double-funnelling to a depth of up to 400 mm beneath the soil surface occurred as matrix flow and was significantly and positively correlated with the vertical root distribution. Soil-water dynamics were distinctly different with and without stemflow. Our framework revealed that the number of tree branches, their insertion angle, leaf number, and stem basal diameter influenced stemflow yield within rainfall thresholds of 1.1 and 3.5 mm d-1. The framework also showed that stemflow yield had a negative impact on soil matric suction, while air temperature was the most influential covariate affecting soil-water dynamics, likely due to its strong correlation to evapotranspiration during the summer season. In spite of the study limitations, such as small sample size and differences between individuals, we show that the proposed framework and experimental approach can contribute to our knowledge of how stemflow generated aboveground triggers major responses in soil-water dynamics belowground.
Original languageEnglish
Article number124448
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Early online date16 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020



  • temperature
  • soil moisture
  • matric suction
  • preferential flow
  • sycamore

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