Journal Article

Analysis of the sensitivity of absorbed light and incident light profile to various canopy architecture and stand conditions

Hyun-Seok Kim, Sari Palmroth, Mathieu Thérézien, Pauline Stenberg and Ram Oren

Edited by Ülo Niinemets

in Tree Physiology

Volume 31, issue 1, pages 30-47
Published in print January 2011 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online January 2011 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI:
Analysis of the sensitivity of absorbed light and incident light profile to various canopy architecture and stand conditions

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  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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We analyzed the effect of simplifying assumptions in canopy representation of radiation transfer models, comparing modeled diffuse non-interceptance and photosynthetic photon flux density with measurements at different layers of complex pine-broadleaved canopy with large seasonal variation of leaf area index. The most detailed model included clumping of trees (i.e., stand density) and a vertical specification of leaf angle distribution and shoot clumping. A less detailed model replaced the vertically specified variables with their means. The most parsimonious model accounted for neither shoot clumping nor stand density. The vertical specification of shoot clumping and leaf angle distribution only slightly improved vertical and seasonal openness and light estimates over using mean values. Further simplification had little effect on total absorbed light but was more risky for estimates of the vertical distributions of openness and light absorbed by the canopy, which will affect photosynthesis estimates due to the non-linearity of photosynthetic light response. Including woody surfaces in winter, when leaf area was low, was essential for reproducing the measurements correctly. A sensitivity analysis showed that ignoring (i) shoot clumping could result in a substantial overestimation of total absorbed light with errors increasing with decreasing leaf area and (ii) stand density in sparse stands could lead to substantial overestimation of total absorbed light, and the effect is largely independent of leaf area. Also, (iii) the effect of changing leaf angle distribution increased with decreasing leaf area, and was larger and more persistent along the leaf area range with increasing shoot clumping. Overall, accounting for the effect of tree clumping on absorbed light is most important in stands composed of species where leaves are not very clumped (e.g., broadleaved). However, even in forests with highly clumped shoots (i.e., coniferous), an accurate estimation of absorbed light distribution in stands requires incorporation of stand density in the model.

Keywords: absorbed photosynthetic photon flux density; broadleaved-type canopies; conifer-type canopies; leaf angle distribution; leaf area index; mixed-species canopies; one-dimensional light absorption; shoot clumping; stand density; tree clumping; vertical distribution of light

Journal Article.  12658 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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