Journal Article

Calibration and assessment of seasonal changes in leaf area index of a tropical dry forest in different stages of succession

M. Kalácska, J. C. Calvo-Alvarado and G. A. Sánchez-Azofeifa

in Tree Physiology

Volume 25, issue 6, pages 733-744
Published in print June 2005 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online June 2005 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI:
Calibration and assessment of seasonal changes in leaf area index of a tropical dry forest in different stages of succession

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A simple measure of the amount of foliage present in a forest is leaf area index (LAI; the amount of foliage per unit ground surface area), which can be determined by optical estimation (gap fraction method) with an instrument such as the Li-Cor LAI-2000 Plant Canopy Analyzer. However, optical instruments such as the LAI-2000 cannot directly differentiate between foliage and woody components of the canopy. Studies investigating LAI and its calibration (extracting foliar LAI from optical estimates) in tropical forests are rare. We calibrated optical estimates of LAI from the LAI-2000 with leaf litter data for a tropical dry forest. We also developed a robust method for determining LAI from leaf litter data in a tropical dry forest environment. We found that, depending on the successional stage of the canopy and the season, the LAI-2000 may underestimate LAI by 17% to over 40%. In the dry season, the instrument overestimated LAI by the contribution of the woody area index. Examination of the seasonal variation in LAI for three successional stages in a tropical dry forest indicated differences in timing of leaf fall according to successional stage and functional group (i.e., lianas and trees). We conclude that when calculating LAI from optical estimates, it is necessary to account for the differences between values obtained from optical and semi-direct techniques. In addition, to calculate LAI from litter collected in traps, specific leaf area must be calculated for each species rather than from a mean value for multiple species.

Keywords: Área de Conservación Guanacaste; Costa Rica; leaf litter; Li-Cor LAI-2000; phenology; Santa Rosa; specific leaf area

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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