Daily and seasonal dynamics of remotely sensed photosynthetic efficiency in tree canopies

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Abstract

The photosynthesis of various species or even a single plant varies dramatically in time and space, creating great spatial heterogeneity within a plant canopy. Continuous and spatially explicit monitoring is, therefore, required to assess the dynamic response of plant photosynthesis to the changing environment. This is a very challenging task when using the existing portable field instrumentation. This paper reports on the application of a technique, laser-induced fluorescence transient (LIFT), developed for ground remote measurement of photosynthetic efficiency at a distance of up to 50 m. The LIFT technique was used to monitor the seasonal dynamics of selected leaf groups within inaccessible canopies of deciduous and evergreen tree species. Electron transport rates computed from LIFT measurements varied over the growth period between the different species studied. The LIFT canopy data and light-use efficiency measured under field conditions correlated reasonably well with the single-leaf pulse amplitude-modulated measurements of broadleaf species, but differed significantly in the case of conifer tree species. The LIFT method has proven to be applicable for a remote sensing assessment of photosynthetic parameters on a diurnal and seasonal scale; further investigation is, however, needed to evaluate the influence of complex heterogeneous canopy structures on LIFT-measured chlorophyll fluorescence parameters.

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