Estimation of light interception properties of conifer shoots by an improved photographic method and a 3D model of shoot structure

Nicholas School of Environmental & Earth Sciences, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0328, USA.
Tree Physiology (Impact Factor: 3.66). 11/2007; 27(10):1375-87. DOI: 10.1093/treephys/27.10.1375
Source: PubMed


The spherical mean of the shoot silhouette-to-total leaf area ratio (STAR) and the shoot transmission coefficient (c) are two key structural parameters in radiative transfer models for calculating canopy photosynthesis and leaf area index. The standard optical method for estimating these parameters might introduce errors in the estimates for species with flexible shoots and needles by changing shoot inclination relative to its inclination in situ. We devised and tested two methods to address this problem. First, we modified the standard optical method by designing an apparatus that allows shoots to be photographed in their original orientation. Second, we developed a faster, model-based approach to replace photography and tested the results against the established approach. We used shoots of three pine species, Pinus echinata Mill. (needle length ~50 mm), P. taeda L. (~150 mm) and P. palustris Mill. (~300 mm). Values of the parameters simulated by the model were similar to those measured from the photographs. In our data, STAR varied about twofold among the pine species and was ~40% higher in shade shoots than in sun shoots of P. taeda. The transmission coefficient for P. taeda shade shoots was also ~40% higher than that of sun shoots of all three species. We tested the versatility of the model by employing it on shoots of two other pine species (P. strobus L. and P. thumbergiana Parl.) as well as on shoots of Tsuga canadensis L. Carr. and Picea pungens Engelm. Regardless of shoot characteristics, the model generated values of shoot structural parameters similar to those estimated with the optical method. Although species-specific and vertical gradients in parameter values are best for modeling radiative transfer in conifer canopies, our results suggest that, in the absence of adequate data, STAR can be approximated as 0.16 for a wide range of shoot structures. For applications requiring angle-dependent parameterization, our new model facilitates rapid generation of these radiative transfer parameters.

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