Leaf area index (LAI) is an important parameter related to carbon, water, and energy exchange between canopy and atmosphere and is widely applied in process models that simulate production and hydrological cycles in forest ecosystems. However, fine-scale spatial heterogeneity of LAI and its controlling factors have yet to be fully understood in Chinese subtropical forests. We used hemispherical photography to measure LAI values in three subtropical forests (Pinus massoniana-Lithocarpus glaber coniferous and evergreen broadleaved mixed forests, Choerospondias axillaris deciduous broadleaved forests, and L. glaber-Cyclobalanopsis glauca evergreen broadleaved forests) from April 2014 to January 2015. Spatial heterogeneity of LAI and its controlling factors were analysed using geostatistical methods and the generalised additive models (GAMs) respectively. Our results showed that LAI values differed greatly in the three forests and their seasonal variations were consistent with plant phenology. LAI values exhibited strong spatial autocorrelation for the three forests measured in January and for the L. glaber-C. glauca forest in April, July, and October. Obvious patch distribution pattern of LAI values occurred in three forests during the non-growing period and this pattern gradually dwindled in the growing season. Stem number, crown coverage, proportion of evergreen conifer species on basal area basis, proportion of deciduous species on basal area basis, and forest types affected the spatial variations in LAI values in January, while stem number and proportion of deciduous species on basal area basis affected the spatial variations in LAI values in July. Floristic composition, spatial heterogeneity, and seasonal variations should be considered for sampling strategy in indirect LAI measurement and application of LAI to simulate functional processes in subtropical forests.
Zhu, W., Xiang, W., Pan, Q., Zeng, Y., Ouyang, S., Lei, P., … Peng, C. (2016). Spatial and seasonal variations of leaf area index (LAI) in subtropical secondary forests related to floristic composition and stand characters. Biogeosciences, 13(12), 3819–3831. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-13-3819-2016