Crown structure and leaf area of the understorey species Prunus serotina
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A detailed biometrical study of the exotic understorey invader Prunus serotina (Ehrh.) was carried out in a mixed coniferous forest stand in northern Belgium. Based on detailed destructive measurements of eight selected model trees, allometric relations of tree height, crown projected area, woody and leaf dry mass and leaf area on tree diameter at breast height (DBH) were derived. The scaling-up procedure from the tree to the stand level was done using the frequency distribution of DBH obtained at the selected experimental plot. The vertical and radial distributions of the tree foliage were estimated by the “cloud” technique. The vertical profile of leaf area showed a bimodal distribution pattern with maxima at heights of 4 and 6 m above the ground. The leaf area index (LAI) of the understorey Prunus serotina as estimated by the described up-scaling procedure (5.1) was significantly higher than the LAI (2.6) as measured by a plant canopy analyser and was also significantly higher than the LAI of the overstorey species Scots pine (1.5–3.0). The LAI of a neighbouring Rhododendron understorey reached only 1.25. This study emphasises the importance of an exotic understorey species in the total leaf area of mixed coniferous forests which might have important implications for the energy and mass exchanges of the entire forest.
KeywordsLAI Pinus sylvestris Tree architecture
We wish to thank I.A. Janssens, D. de Pury, V. Gond and N. Calluy for their valuable help with field and laboratory measurements. We are also grateful to J. Van Slycken and S. Overloop (INBO, Geraardsbergen) for their logistic support at the forest site. This research was financially supported by the Sixth Framework Programme of the European Commission as Carbo-Europe IP (contract no. GOCE-CT-2003-505572) and by the Flemish-Czech Bilateral Scientific Cooperation project (no. 1-2006-19). This work was part of the Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems Core project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP).
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