Spatial and seasonal variations of leaf area index (LAI) in subtropical secondary forests related to floristic composition and stand characters
Leaf area index (LAI) is an important parameter related to carbon, water and energy exchange between canopy and atmosphere, and is widely applied in the process models to simulate production and hydrological cycle in forest ecosystems. However, fine-scale spatial heterogeneity of LAI and its controlling factors have not been fully understood in Chinese subtropical forests. We used hemispherical photography to measure LAI values in three subtropical forests (i.e. <i>Pinus massoniana –
... oniana – Lithocarpus glaber</i> coniferous and evergreen broadleaved mixed forests, <i>Choerospondias axillaris</i> deciduous broadleaved forests, and <i>L. glaber – Cyclobalanopsis glauca</i> evergreen broadleaved forests) during period from April, 2014 to January, 2015. Spatial heterogeneity of LAI and its controlling factors were analysed by using geostatistics method 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 three forests measured in January and for the <i>L. glaber – C. glauca</i> 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. Stand basal area, crown coverage, crown width, proportion of deciduous species on basal area basis and forest types affected the spatial variations in LAI values in January, while species richness, crown coverage, stem number and forest types 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.