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Spatial heterogeneity of light and tree sapling responses in the understory of disturbed montane forests

Guadalupe Méndez-Dewar (1)   , Mario González-Espinosa (2), Miguel Equihua (1)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 8, Issue 4, Pages 448-455 (2014)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1195-007
Published: Oct 08, 2014 - Copyright © 2014 SISEF

Research Articles


Attributes and frequency of forest gaps are usually described in reference to a one-dimensional gradient of light, which may relate to their disturbance dynamics. Similarly, species are customarily classified by their light response. We propose that a bi-dimensional light framework facilitates the understanding and comparison of forest systems and the understanding of plant responses to the complex light environment. This light plane is based on two spatially related components: 1) light received directly on a particular point (Focal); and 2) a statistical summary of the immediate environment representing the light conditions surrounding that point (Context). The contrast between these two values is null when Focal = Context and positive when Focal > Context or otherwise negative. Light was assessed using hemispherical photographs using a spatial arrangement of pictures spaced ~3 metres (m) in-between. Eight forest plots were surveyed, each with a central gap of different size. Sapling performance of Alnus acuminata, Cornus excelsa, Liquidambar styraciflua, Persea americana and Quercus laurina was also assessed within these plots. Measurements of stem height, basal diameter, and slenderness allometry were taken over a period of more than two years. We found in the light plane that plots were distributed in a pattern congruent with their estimated degree of disturbance (gap size), which spanned wide areas in the plane. Liquidambar styraciflua. and Quercus laurina were found to be sensitive to Focal light, irrespective of Context light. All species responded to Focal light under negative Contrast. Cornus and Persea grew taller and more slender as Focal light increased, particularly under null contrast. There is evidence suggesting that plant growth is dependent on the contrast measured. Thus, it would be relevant to devise a functional classification of tree species that considers their response to both direct light and luminosity of the immediate environment as measured by a contrast value.

  Keywords


Cartesian Plane, Canopy Filter, Light Context, Shade Tolerance, Sunflecks, Light Plane

Authors’ address

(1)
Guadalupe Méndez-Dewar
Miguel Equihua
Red de Ambiente y Sustentabilidad, Instituto de Ecología A.C. (INECOL), Apartado Postal 63, 91000 Xalapa, Veracruz (Mexico)
(2)
Mario González-Espinosa
Departamento de Conservación de la Biodiversidad, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), Apartado Postal 63, 29290 San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas (Mexico)

Corresponding author

 
Guadalupe Méndez-Dewar
menguadalupe@yahoo.com.mx

Citation

Méndez-Dewar G, González-Espinosa M, Equihua M (2014). Spatial heterogeneity of light and tree sapling responses in the understory of disturbed montane forests. iForest 8: 448-455. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1195-007

Academic Editor

Francesco Ripullone

Paper history

Received: Dec 04, 2013
Accepted: Jul 24, 2014

First online: Oct 08, 2014
Publication Date: Aug 02, 2015
Publication Time: 2.53 months

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