Field monitoring of suction in the vicinity of an urban tree: exploring termite infestation and the shading effects of tree canopy

Wan Huan Zhou, Shu Yu He, Ankit Garg, Zhen Yu Yin

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this short communication is to explore spatial distribution of soil suction in the vicinity of an urban tree considering effects of termite infestation and also radiant energy interception by canopy. A site in an urban landscape containing a mix of species cover (grass cover in the vicinity of trees) was selected for monitoring. A field monitoring program was designed to monitor soil (soil suction, moisture), vegetation parameters (tree height, grass leaf area), and meteorological parameters during drying/wetting cycles. As expected, before termite infestation, suction magnitude and rate of change were highest near the tree stem and at shallower depths, reflecting the dominance of transpiration over evaporation. However, after termite infestation, soil suction diminished significantly near the tree stem and increased farther from the tree stem, a phenomenon accompanied by loss of canopy area, as captured by a color analysis technique (i.e., an image processing method). These findings reflected a reduction in stomatal conductance, itself an indicator of transpiration loss through the stomata—likely because reduced canopy shading effects caused increased evaporation. Soil suction at deeper depths seemed not to be significantly affected, generally due to canopy and termite infestation. In summary, the study sheds new light on issues of tree maintenance by showing how termite infestation can significantly affect the performance of green infrastructure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1341-1361
Number of pages21
JournalActa Geotechnica
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • Soil suction
  • Stomatal conductance
  • Termite infestation
  • Tree canopy
  • Urban landscape

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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