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Fast determination of light availability and leaf area index in tropical forests

  • Laurent Cournac (a1), Marc-Antoine Dubois (a2), Jérôme Chave (a2) (a3) and Bernard Riéra (a4)

Abstract

An important property of plant communities is the Leaf Area Index (LAI), which is the vertically integrated surface of leaves per unit of ground area. Leaves are the primary sites of photosynthesis and transpiration, thus the LAI, which conditions the light interception by the canopy, is directly related to carbon and water exchange with the atmosphere at the stand scale (McNaughton & Jarvis 1983). LAI also has an impact on tree growth through the interception of light. Light availability below canopies is the principal limiting factor of tree recruitment and growth in forests (Denslow et al. 1990). Several methodologies have been used for measuring LAI in the field. These can be classiffed in four categories (Marshall & Waring 1986): (1) direct measurements by litterfall collection or destructive sampling, (2) allometric correlations with variables such as tree height or tree diameter, (3) gap-fraction assessment (e.g. with hemispherical photographs), (4) measurement of light transmittance with optical sensors.

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Corresponding author

Corresponding author. Email: laurent.cournac@cea.fr

Keywords

Fast determination of light availability and leaf area index in tropical forests

  • Laurent Cournac (a1), Marc-Antoine Dubois (a2), Jérôme Chave (a2) (a3) and Bernard Riéra (a4)

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