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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Theory for Leaf Segment Lengths for Plant Canopies


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 84 No. 1, p. 101-107
    Received: Oct 23, 1989

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. C. L. Walthall  and
  2. J. M. Norman
  1. L aboratory for Global Remote Sensing Studies, Dep. of Geography, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
    D ep. of Soils Science, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706



Leaves are considered the most important architectural components when studying the interaction of solar radiation with vegetation canopies. Models used in the study of solar radiation interaction with canopies generally assume randomly distributed leaves, with little or no attention to the arrangement of leaves and inter-leaf gaps. This study was conducted to develop a model to describe the distribution of lengths of overlapping or contiguous leaves along a transect. The model describes the cumulative distribution of leaf segment lengths using a modified form of an equation previously used to describe interleaf gap length distributions. The leaf segment distribution model estimates were tested by comparisons with measurements of simulated physical canopies made of paper labels on clear plexiglass sheets. A comparison of model estimates with measurements of the simulated physical canopy showed generally good agreement. This study demonstrates that the distribution of leaf segment lengths along a transect within a canopy, like that of inter-leaf gaps, is a function of canopy density and individual leaf dimensions. This is important as the leaf segment length distribution provides a technique for indirect canopy structure determination.

The authors were with the Center for Agricultural Meteorology and Climatology and Department of Agronomy, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, when the research was undertaken.

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