Differential stemflow yield from European beech saplings: the role of individual canopy structure metrics

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Abstract

Stemflow production is affected by a suite of biotic and abiotic factors. It has proven difficult to determine the importance of individual canopy structure metrics on stemflow production. The disentanglement of the role and importance of individual canopy structure metrics would advance our understanding of the dynamics of stemflow production. This work employed ten isolated (i.e. no overlapping crowns) experimental European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) saplings to examine the effects of various canopy structural metrics on stemflow production in east-central Germany. The following canopy structural metrics were utilized in a hierarchical cluster analysis using Ward's method to separate the saplings into groups: primary branch count per unit projected crown area, secondary branch count per unit projected crown area, total branch count per unit projected crown area, mean branch inclination angle, minimum branch inclination angle, maximum branch inclination angle, total dry woody biomass per unit projected crown area, total foliar dry biomass per unit projected crown area and total dry biomass per unit projected crown area. Cluster group means revealed that saplings, which generate the largest stemflow yields, once controlled for sapling size, have straighter boles (but some trunk lean), more steeply inclined branches, a larger number of branches, more woody surface area and fewer numbers of leaves. Our results may prove valuable as a guide to researchers wishing to couple LiDAR and fine-scale architectural models with the canopy metrics that govern stemflow to provide a better understanding of the canopy on the hydrology and biogeochemistry of forests. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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