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Field patterns of temporal variations in the light environment within the crowns of a Mediterranean evergreen tree (Olea europaea)

An Erratum to this article was published on 09 March 2016

Abstract

Key message

There are specific diurnal light variation patterns and negligible seasonal variation within tree crowns. Crown-mediated regulation of temporal light regimes can be important for whole plant function in Mediterranean evergreens.

Abstract

The light environment within a tree crown can be characterized by specific variation patterns arising from the structural features of the crown. Within-crown light variation patterns can be important for plant productivity, but this has yet to be assessed in natural settings. The spatio-temporal variations of direct and diffuse photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD), their proportions and sunfleck frequency within the crowns of isolated adult wild olive trees (Olea europaea L.) were investigated. Trees growing in contrasting Mediterranean conditions (continental vs. coastal) at the same latitude were compared. Instantaneous diffuse and total PPFD were measured with sunshine sensors in three crown layers (outer-, middle- and inner-crown) in the south-facing part of the crown, at two points of the diurnal (mid-morning and midday) and seasonal (summer and winter) cycles. Direct PPFD and the proportion of direct to total PPFD vary diurnally within the crown as a result of an increase in sunfleck frequency during midday and in self-shading during mid-morning, in both summer and winter conditions. Conversely, the lack of seasonal variation in the three light attributes is better explained by a greater average crown transmittance in winter conditions. The interplay between crown architecture heterogeneity and varying solar position renders identifiable patterns of temporal variations in the light environment within tree crowns. These patterns suggest that trees can benefit from the light heterogeneity typical of Mediterranean environments by developing conservative architectural layouts.

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Acknowledgments

We wish to thank A Vázquez, JM Serrano, A López-Pintor and K Carrillo for assistance during field work. Thanks to S Magro and A Escudero for their insightful comments and S Young for revising the written English. We gratefully acknowledge one anonymous referee for substantially improving the manuscript. This research was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Education (Project CGL2009-10392). We are also indebted to the Madrid Regional Govt. (Project REMEDINAL-2, S2009/AMB-1783).

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Correspondence to Agustina B. Ventre-Lespiaucq.

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Communicated by L. Gratani.

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Ventre-Lespiaucq, A.B., Escribano-Rocafort, A.G., Delgado, J.A. et al. Field patterns of temporal variations in the light environment within the crowns of a Mediterranean evergreen tree (Olea europaea). Trees 30, 995–1009 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-015-1328-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-015-1328-7

Keywords

  • Mediterranean evergreen trees
  • Direct and diffuse PAR
  • Sunflecks
  • Crown transmittance
  • Spatio-temporal light variation
  • Within-crown diurnal and seasonal light variation
  • Olea europaea