Ecological Research

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 305-316

First online:

Microsite variation in light availability and seedling growth ofQuercus serrata in a temperate pine forest

  • Izumi WashitaniAffiliated withInstitute of Biological Sciences, University of Tsukuba
  • , Yanhong TangAffiliated withInstitute of Biological Sciences, University of Tsukuba

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Spatial heterogeneity in light availability for tree seedlings under the canopy of a temperate pine forest was studied. Six-day measurements at 10-s intervals revealed a great variety in the temporal patterns of photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) and histograms among observation days and microsites; mean daily total PPFD relative to full sun varied from 1.5% to 10.4% depending on the microsites. The occurrence and duration of PPFD above 80 μmol m−2 s−1, which might reflect sunfleck activity, varied greatly among the microsites. However, several simple empirical relationships were found between some parameters characterizing microsite light availability and sunfleck activity; the diffuse site factor was correlated well with other parameters, including daily total PPFD, daily totals and daily summed durations of high PPFD above any examined threshold level, and its contribution to daily total PPFD. Diffuse site factors which were obtained for 700 microsites within an area of 28 m2 on three different occasions during the growing season showed high correlations within the microsite. Based on the regressed relationship between the relative growth rate of current-year seedlings ofQuercus serrata and the microsite diffuse site factor and the results of area-survey measurement of the diffuse site factor, an estimation was made of the abundance of potential ‘safe-sites’ for seedling growth of the species; the ‘safe sites’ were estimated to cover 40% and 0% of the total area of the sunny and shady sites of the forest, respectively.

Key words

Light availability Microsite Photosynthetic photon flux density Tree seedling growth