Leaf area and foliar biomass relationships in northern hardwood forests located along an 800 km acid deposition gradient

TitleLeaf area and foliar biomass relationships in northern hardwood forests located along an 800 km acid deposition gradient
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1991
AuthorsBurton AJames, Pregitzer KS, Reed DD
JournalForest Science
Volume37
Issue4
Pagination1041-1059
KeywordsTRANSMISSION
Abstract

The canopies of northern hardwood forests dominated by sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) were examined at five locations spanning 800 km along an acid deposition and climatic gradient in the Great Lakes region. Leaf area index (LAI) calculated from litterfall ranged from 6.0 to 8.0 in 1988, from 4.9 to 7.9 in 1989, and from 5.3 to 7.8 in 1990. The data suggest that maximum LAI for the sites is between 7 and 8. Insect defoliation and the allocation of assimilates to reproductive parts in large seed years reduced LAI by up to 34%. Allometric equations for leaf area and foliar biomass were not significantly different among sites. They predicted higher LAI values than were estimated from litterfall and could not account for the influences of defoliation and seed production. Canopy transmittance was a viable alternative for estimating LAI. Extinction coefficients (K) of 0.49 to 0.65 were appropriate for solar elevations of 63 deg. to 41 deg. Patterns of specific leaf area (SLA) were similar for the sites. Average sugar maple SLA increased from 147 cm2/g in the upper 5 m of the canopy to 389 cm2/g in the seedling layer. Litterfall SLA averaged 196 cm2/g for all species and 192 cm2/g for sugar maple. Similarity among the sites in allometric relationships, maximum LAI, canopy transmittance, and patterns of SLA suggests these characteristics were controlled primarily by the similar nutrient and moisture availability at the sites. A general increasing trend in litter production along the gradient could not be attributed to N deposition or length of growing season due to year to year variability resulting from insect defoliation and seed production.