Journal Article

Shoot structure, light interception, and distribution of nitrogen in an <i>Abies amabilis</i> canopy

Pauline Stenberg, Heikki Smolander, Douglas Sprugel and Sampo Smolander

in Tree Physiology

Volume 18, issue 11, pages 759-767
Published in print November 1998 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online November 1998 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI:
Shoot structure, light interception, and distribution of nitrogen in an Abies amabilis canopy

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We studied the effects of variation in shoot structure and needle morphology on the distributions of light and nitrogen within a Pacific silver fir (Abies amabilis (Dougl.) Forbes) canopy. Specifically, we investigated the role of morphological shade acclimation in the determination of resource use efficiency, which is claimed to be optimal when the distribution of nitrogen within the canopy is directly proportional to the distribution of intercepted photosynthetically active radiation (PAR). Shoots were collected from different heights in the crowns of trees representing four different size classes. A new method was developed to estimate seasonal light interceptance (SLI, intercepted PAR per unit needle area) of the shoots using a model for the directional distribution of above-canopy PAR, measurements of shoot silhouette area and canopy gap fraction in different directions. The ratio SLI/SLIo, where the reference value SLIo represents the seasonal light interceptance of a spherical surface at the shoot location, was used to quantify the efficiency of light capture by a shoot. The ratio SLI/SLIo doubled from the top to the bottom of the canopy, mainly as a result of smaller internal shading in shade shoots than in sun shoots. Increased light-capturing efficiency of shade shoots implies that the difference in intercepted light by sun shoots versus shade shoots is much less than the decrease in available light from the upper to the lower canopy. For example, SLI of the five most sunlit shoots was only about 20 times greater than the SLI of the five most shaded shoots, whereas SLIo was 40 times greater for sun shoots than for shade shoots. Nitrogen content per unit needle area was about three times higher in sun needles than in shade needles. This variation, however, was not enough to produce proportionality between the amounts of nitrogen and intercepted PAR throughout the canopy.

Keywords: morphological acclimation; Pacific silver fir; resource use efficiency

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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