, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 935–946 | Cite as

Leaf area index development in temperate oak and beech forests is driven by stand characteristics and weather conditions

  • R. BequetEmail author
  • M. Campioli
  • V. Kint
  • D. Vansteenkiste
  • B. Muys
  • R. Ceulemans
Original Paper


Using data from 20 even-aged and homogeneous mature beech and oak study plots in Flanders (Northern Belgium), an analysis of the empirical relationships between the rates of leaf area index (LAI) change throughout the leaf development of 2008 and stand, site and meteorological variables was performed. Species-specific multiple linear regressions were fitted between the rates of LAI change and the predictors for two distinct periods from April until August. After a sharp increase in LAI following budburst, the seasonal LAI development for both species showed a marked period of stationary LAI development over all study plots. The cause for the cessation of LAI growth was assumed to be the decline of air temperature and radiation during this period. Later on, the rate of LAI development restarted similarly in every plot. The influence of weather on LAI development was high and its effects were different between species, with beech mostly affected by radiation and oak negatively related to minimal and maximal values of air temperature. Furthermore, our analysis suggested that stand structural (tree density and stand basal area for both species) and tree growth characteristics (average tree-ring width ratio for oak) variables were major drivers of the LAI development during early spring. Later during the growth period, stand variables became less predominant in affecting LAI development. Site quality variables affected LAI development to a lesser extent. The seasonal LAI development was found very similar among stands. This study adds a more accurate and comprehensive approach to the modelling of LAI development during leaf growth of two important European temperate deciduous forest species.


Fagus sylvatica Hemispherical photography Seasonal leaf area course Model Phenology Quercus robur 



Our thanks go to the Royal Belgian Meteorological Institute (KMI) and the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute (KNMI) for providing meteorological data and the forestry offices of the Flemish Agency of Nature and Forest (ANB) for granting access to the study plots. Furthermore, we thank the Flemish Institute of Forest and Nature Research (INBO), as well as to all colleagues and technical staff of the SimForTree project. This research was supported by the SimForTree research contract of the Flemish Institute for the Promotion of Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT contract number 060032).


  1. Assmann E (1970) The principles of forest yield study. Pergamon Press Ltd, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  2. Aubinet M, Heinesch B, Longdoz B (2002) Estimation of the carbon sequestration by a heterogeneous forest: night flux corrections, heterogeneity of the site and inter-annual variability. Glob Change Biol 8:1053–1071CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barr AG, Black TA, Hogg EH, Kljun N, Morgenstern K, Nesic Z (2004) Inter-annual variability in the leaf area index of a boreal aspen-hazelnut forest in relation to net ecosystem production. Agr For Meterol 126:237–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bartelink HH (1997) Allometric relationships for biomass and leaf area of beech (Fagus sylvatica L). Ann For Sci 54:39–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bary-Lenger A, Nebout JP (1993) Les chênes pédonculés et sessiles en France et en Belgique. Editions du Perron, LiègeGoogle Scholar
  6. Bequet R, Kint V, Campioli M, Vansteenkiste D, Muys B, Ceulemans R (2011) Influence of stand, site and meteorological variables on the maximum leaf area index of beech, oak and Scots pine. Eur J For Res (in press). doi: 10.1007/s10342-011-0500-x
  7. Black TA, Chen WJ, Barr AG, Arain MA, Chen Z, Nesic Z, Hogg EH, Neumann HH, Yang PC (2000) Increased carbon sequestration by a boreal deciduous forest in years with a warm spring. Geophys Res Lett 27:1271–1274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bleeker A, Van Deursen WPA (2007) Modelling the nitrogen deposition to afforested systems. In: Heil GW, Muys B, Hansen K (eds) Environmental effects of afforestation in North–Western Europe. Springer, New York, pp 109–128 (Plant and Vegetation Series 1)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bonan GB (1993) Importance of leaf area index and forest type when estimating photosynthesis in boreal forests. Remote Sens Environ 43:303–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chen JM, Black TA (1992) Defining leaf area index for non-flat leaves. Plant Cell Environ 15:421–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chen JM, Cihlar J (1995) Quantifying the effect of canopy architecture on optical measurements of leaf area index using two gap size analysis methods. IEEE Trans Geosci Remote Sens 33:777–787CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chuine I, Kramer K, Hänninen H (2003) Plant development models. In: Schwartz MD (ed) Phenology: an integrative environmental science. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 217–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Comps B, Letouzey J, Savoie JM (1987) Phenology of the tree canopy in a mixed oak and beech forest in Aquitaine. Ann For Sci 44:153–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Davi H, Baret F, Huc R, Dufrene E (2008) Effect of thinning on LAI variance in heterogeneous forests. For Ecol Manag 256:890–899CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Derory J, Leger P, Garcia V, Schaeffer J, Hauser MT, Salin F, Luschnig C, Plomion C, Glossl J, Kremer A (2006) Transcriptome analysis of bud burst in sessile oak (Quercus petraea). New Phytol 170:723–738PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. EP UN (1997) World atlas of desertification. United Nations Environmental Programme, 2nd edn. Nairobi, KenyaGoogle Scholar
  17. García-González I, Fonti P (2008) Ensuring a representative sample of earlywood vessels for dendroecological studies: an example from two ring-porous species. Trees-Struct Funct 22:237–244Google Scholar
  18. Gond V, de Pury DGG, Veroustraete F, Ceulemans R (1999) Seasonal variations in leaf area index, leaf chlorophyll, and water content; scaling-up to estimate fAPAR and carbon balance in a multilayer, multispecies temperate forest. Tree Physiol 19:673–679PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Gower ST, Kucharik CJ, Norman JM (1999) Direct and indirect estimation of leaf area index, f(APAR), and net primary production of terrestrial ecosystems. Remote Sens Environ 70:29–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Greco S, Baldocchi DD (1996) Seasonal variations of CO2 and water vapour exchange rates over a temperate deciduous forest. Glob Chang Biol 2:183–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gruber R (2003) Control and forecasting of the fructification of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) for the stand Zierenberg 38A and the level I stand in Hessen by climate factors. Allg Forst Jagdztg 174:67–79Google Scholar
  22. Hargreaves GH, Samani ZA (1985) Reference crop evapotranspiration from temperature. Appl Eng Agric 1:96–99Google Scholar
  23. Hymus GJ, Pontailler JY, Li J, Stiling P, Hinkle CR, Drake BG (2002) Seasonal variability in the effect of elevated CO2 on ecosystem leaf area index in a scrub-oak ecosystem. Glob Change Biol 8:931–940CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jansen JJ, Sevenster J, Faber PJ (1996) Opbrengsttabellen voor belangrijke boomsoorten in Nederland. IBN-report, 221. Instituut voor Bos-en Natuuronderzoek, WageningenGoogle Scholar
  25. Jonard M, Andre F, Ponette Q (2006) Modeling leaf dispersal in mixed hardwood forests using a ballistic approach. Ecology 87:2306–2318PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jonckheere I, Fleck S, Nackaerts K, Muys B, Coppin P, Weiss M, Baret F (2004) Review of methods for in situ leaf area index determination. Part I. Theories, sensors and hemispherical photography. Agr For Meteorol 121:19–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jonckheere I, Nackaerts K, Muys B, Coppin P (2005) Assessment of automatic gap fraction estimation of forests from digital hemispherical photography. Agr For Meteorol 132:96–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kimura K, Ishida A, Uemura A, Matsumoto Y, Terashima I (1998) Effects of current-year and previous-year PPFDs on shoot gross morphology and leaf properties in Fagus japonica. Tree Physiol 18:459–466PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Kramer K (1995) Phenotypic plasticity of the phenology of seven European tree species in relation to climatic warming. Plant Cell Environ 18:93–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kramer K, Leinonen I, Loustau D (2000) The importance of phenology for the evaluation of impact of climate change on growth of boreal, temperate and Mediterranean forests ecosystems: an overview. Int J Biometeorol 44:67–75PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Krishnan P, Black TA, Grant NJ, Barr AG, Hogg ETH, Jassal RS, Morgenstern K (2006) Impact of changing soil moisture distribution on net ecosystem productivity of a boreal aspen forest during and following drought. Agr For Meteorol 139:208–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kull O, Broadmeadow M, Kruijt B, Meir P (1999) Light distribution and foliage structure in an oak canopy. Trees-Struct Funct 14:55–64Google Scholar
  33. Lang ARG, Xiang YQ (1986) Estimation of leaf area index from transmission of direct sunlight in discontinuous canopies. Agr For Meteorol 37:229–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Le Dantec V, Dufrene E, Saugier B (2000) Interannual and spatial variation in maximum leaf area index of temperate deciduous stands. For Ecol Manag 134:71–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mussche S, Samson R, Nachtergale L, De Schrijver A, Lemeur R, Lust N (2001) A comparison of optical and direct methods for monitoring the seasonal dynamics of leaf area index in deciduous forests. Silva Fenn 35:373–384Google Scholar
  36. Nackaerts K, Coppin P, Muys B, Hermy M (2000) Sampling methodology for LAI measurements with LAI-2000 in small forest stands. Agr For Meteorol 101:247–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nasahara KN, Muraoka H, Nagai S, Mikami H (2008) Vertical integration of leaf area index in a Japanese deciduous broad-leaved forest. Agr For Meteorol 148:1136–1146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nicolini E, Caraglio Y (1994) Influence of various architectural characteristics on the development of forked axis in Fagus sylvatica as function of canopy presence. Can J Bot 72:1723–1734CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Nizinski JJ, Saugier B (1988) A model of leaf budding and development for a mature Quercus forest. J Appl Ecol 25:643–652CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Peuke AD, Schraml C, Hartung W, Rennenberg H (2002) Identification of drought-sensitive beech ecotypes by physiological parameters. New Phytol 154:373–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pregitzer KS, Burton AJ, Zak DR, Talhelm AF (2008) Simulated chronic nitrogen deposition increases carbon storage in Northern Temperate forests. Glob Change Biol 14:142–153Google Scholar
  42. Pretzsch H (2009) Forest dynamics, growth and yield. Springer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rich PM (1990) Characterizing plant canopies with hemispherical photographs. Remote Sens Rev 5:13–29Google Scholar
  44. Richardson AD, Hollinger DY, Dail DB, Lee JT, Munger JW, O’Keefe J (2009) Influence of spring phenology on seasonal and annual carbon balance in two contrasting New England forests. Tree Physiol 29:321–331PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ridler TW, Calvard S (1978) Picture thresholding using an iterative selection method. IEEE Trans Syst Man Cybern 8:630–632CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Russo SE, Davies SJ, King DA, Tan S (2005) Soil-related performance variation and distributions of tree species in a Bornean rain forest. J Ecol 93:879–889CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Saigusa N, Yamamoto S, Murayama S, Kondo H, Nishimura N (2002) Gross primary production and net ecosystem exchange of a cool-temperate deciduous forest estimated by the eddy covariance method. Agr For Meteorol 112:203–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Schleppi P, Conedera M, Sedivy I, Thimonier A (2007) Correcting non-linearity and slope effects in the estimation of the leaf area index of forests from hemispherical photographs. Agr For Meteorol 144:236–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Serrano L, Peñuelas J (2005) Assessing forest structure and function from spectral transmittance measurements: a case study in a Mediterranean holm oak forest. Tree Physiol 25:67–74PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Skomarkova MV, Vaganov EA, Mund M, Knohl A, Linke P, Boerner A, Schulze ED (2006) Inter-annual and seasonal variability of radial growth, wood density and carbon isotope ratios in tree rings of beech (Fagus sylvatica) growing in Germany and Italy. Trees-Struct Funct 20:571–586Google Scholar
  51. R Development Core Team (2011) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. ISBN 3-900051-07-0.
  52. Teepe R, Dilling H, Beese F (2003) Estimating water retention curves of forest soils from soil texture and bulk density. J Plant Nutr Soil Sci 166:111–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Viglione A (2009) nsRFA: Non-supervised Regional Frequency Analysis. R package version 0.6-8.
  54. Vincke C, Granier A, Bréda N, Devillez F (2005) Evapotranspiration of a declining Quercus robur (L.) stand from 1999 to 2001. II. Daily actual evapotranspiration and soil water reserve. Ann For Sci 62:615–623CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Vitasse Y, Delzon S, Dufrene E, Pontailler JY, Louvet JM, Kremer A, Michalet R (2009a) Leaf phenology sensitivity to temperature in European trees: Do within-species populations exhibit similar responses? Agr For Meteorol 149:735–744CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Vitasse Y, Porte AJ, Kremer A, Michalet R, Delzon S (2009b) Responses of canopy duration to temperature changes in four temperate tree species: relative contributions of spring and autumn leaf phenology. Oecologia 161:187–198PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. von Wuehlisch G, Krusche D, Muhs HJ (1995) Variation in temperature sum requirement for flushing of beech provenances. Silvae Genet 44:343–346Google Scholar
  58. Vose JM, Dougherty PM, Long JN, Smith FW, Gholz HL, Curran PJ (1994) Factors influencing the amount and distribution of leaf area of pine stands. Ecol Bull 43:102–114Google Scholar
  59. Waring RH (1983) Estimating forest growth and efficiency in relation to canopy leaf area. Adv Ecol Res 13:327–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wilson KB, Baldocchi DD, Hanson PJ (2001) Leaf age affects the seasonal pattern of photosynthetic capacity and net ecosystem exchange of carbon in a deciduous forest. Plant Cell Environ 24:571–583CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zimmermann MH (1983) Xylem structure and the ascent of sap. In: Timell TE (ed) Springer series in wood science, vol 1. Springer, Berlin. ISBN 3-540-12268-0Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Bequet
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. Campioli
    • 1
  • V. Kint
    • 2
  • D. Vansteenkiste
    • 3
  • B. Muys
    • 2
  • R. Ceulemans
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of AntwerpenWilrijkBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesKatholieke Universiteit LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.Laboratory of Wood Technology, Department of Forest and Water Management, Faculty of Bioscience EngineeringGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

Personalised recommendations