Oecologia

, Volume 75, Issue 1, pp 54–60 | Cite as

Conopy architecture of Larrea tridentata (DC.) Cov., a desert shrub: foliage orientation and direct beam radiation interception

  • Howard S. Neufeld
  • Frederick C. Meinzer
  • Charles S. Wisdom
  • M. Rasoul Sharifi
  • Philip W. Rundel
  • Mollie S. Neufeld
  • Yoram Goldring
  • Gary L. Cunningham
Original Papers

Summary

At sites in the United States, creosote bushes (Larrea tridentata (DC.) Cov.) orient foliage clusters predominantly toward the southeast. Foliage of bushes at the southernmost distribution extreme in Mexico shows no predominant orientation. Clusters at all sites are inclined between 33° and 71° from the horizontal. Inclinations are steeper in the drier and hotter Mojave Desert than in the Chihuahuan Desert. Individual leaflets, though not measured, appear more randomly oriented than foliage clusters. In several populations studied, branches were shorter in the southeastern sectors of the crown, reducing self-shading early in the morning. Measurements of direct beam radiation interception by detached branches, using digital image processing, indicated that foliage clusters oriented toward the southeast exhibited less self-shading during spring mornings than clusters oriented northeast. This effect was not apparent at the summer solstice. This type of canopy architecture may tend to minimize self-shading during the morning hours when conditions are more favorable for photosynthesis, resulting in an improved daily water use efficiency.

Key words

Light interception Leaf orientation Canopy architecture Larrea tridentata 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Howard S. Neufeld
    • 1
  • Frederick C. Meinzer
    • 2
  • Charles S. Wisdom
    • 2
  • M. Rasoul Sharifi
    • 2
  • Philip W. Rundel
    • 2
  • Mollie S. Neufeld
    • 1
  • Yoram Goldring
    • 1
  • Gary L. Cunningham
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA
  2. 2.Laboratory of Biomedical and Environmental SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Biology DepartmentAppalachian State UniversityBooneUSA
  4. 4.Hawaiian Sugar Planter's AssociationAleaUSA
  5. 5.Department of BiologyUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

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