Ecophysiology of an urban citrus orchard

Rafat Qubaja, Fulin Yang, Madi Amer, Fyodor Tatarinov, Dan Yakir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


•Quantifying the carbon and water economy of non-commercial urban citrus orchards can help recognize the value of such orchards in the urban settings.
•A 40 years old citrus orchard within urban setting and sustained on minimal irrigation showed high water use efficiency and significant carbon storage capacity.
•The water and carbon use efficiency of the urban orchard were higher than that of a similar commercial ones, in spite of 2x difference in water supply.
•Low-density row-crop type orchard help minimize water and carbon losses in evaporation and respiration in the low activity open spaces.
Characterizing the carbon and water economy of non-commercial urban citrus orchards can help determine their value in urban settings. This includes provisions of urban ecology and ecosystem services, such as shade, conservation of biodiversity, and carbon sequestration, under space and water limitations that may be particularly suitable in the semi-arid Mediterranean regions. We carried out canopy-scale eddy covariance (EC) measurements of net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) and evapotranspiration (ET), partitioned these fluxes to their components using chamber-based soil fluxes, and combined them with carbon stock to provide a first approximation of the apparent ecosystem carbon turnover rate (τeco). The urban orchard switched from a carbon sink of 0.6 μmol m−2 s−1 to a carbon source of 0.2 μmol m−2 s−1 between winter and summer, with a first approximation of the annual carbon storage capacity of ∼75.3 g m−2 and a total carbon accumulation over its 40 year life span of ∼3014 g m−2. Carbon accumulated predominantly below ground (67 % of total), and soil CO2 effluxes showed low sensitivity to temperature (Q10 ∼1.6) and therefore also to climate warming, but also a fast C turnover rate (∼5.4 y), and therefore sensitivity to disturbances. The rates of ET increased from 0.40 to 1.25 mmol m−2 s−1 between the wet and dry seasons, and was ∼50 % of a similar nearby commercial orchard. Partitioning of the ecosystem carbon and water fluxes indicated high canopy water use efficiency (11.7 μmol CO2/mmol H2O; during the peak activity period). We demonstrate the potential of urban citrus orchards with low supplemental irrigation (50 % compared with commercial orchards in the area) to store significant amounts of carbon with high transpiration efficiencies. The results will help decision making in regard to urban tree planting and the ecological management of urban green spaces and community use in water-limited environments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number127361
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Nov 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Ecophysiology of an urban citrus orchard'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this