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Tree Physiol. 1990 Dec;7(1_2_3_4):135-155.

Architectural distribution of foliage in individual Pinus radiata D. Don crowns and the effects of clumping on radiation interception.

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  • 1Forest Research Institute, Private Bag 3020, Rotorua, New Zealand.


The architectural arrangement and leaf area of representative branch units, on one branch complex from each cluster on the stem, were measured on six trees in a widely spaced 7-year-old Pinus radiata D. Don plantation. There was a linear relationship between leaf area and the basal area of branch complexes. Assuming similarity in the arrangement of branch units within concomitant branch complexes at each cluster, the 3-dimensional distribution of leaf area density (leaf area per unit volume) in an array of cubic cells, each 10(-3) m(3), comprising the volume of each tree crown, was reconstructed. The fraction of cells in which foliage was present varied from 0.08 to 0.23 in the crowns with the highest (Tree 4) and lowest (Tree 3) degree of clumping, respectively. This difference was related to the number, length, and leaf area per unit length of Order 3 branch units, in particular. The actual distributions of leaf area density were used with a simple radiative transfer model to estimate the probability of penetration of beam and diffuse photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) through individual tree crowns. The average probability of beam penetration was greater for the tree with the most clumped foliage than for the tree with the least clumped foliage. For both trees, the average probabilities of penetration were greater than the values that would have resulted if a random distribution of foliage had been assumed. The negative binomial model was used to estimate an index of foliage dispersion for the tree crowns. For beam PAR, the index of foliage dispersion was 3.3 and 2.3 for the trees with the most, and the least clumped foliage, respectively. These results were supported by analysis of the architectural arrangement of foliage in the tree crowns. For two days in summer, the assumption that leaf area density was randomly distributed would have resulted in a 20 to 30% overestimation of intercepted PAR flux by the tree crowns.

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