Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2017, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (7): 749-760.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2016.0288

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatiotemporal variation and scale effect of canopy leaf area index of larch plantation on a slope of the semi-humid Liupan Mountains, Ningxia, China

Ze-Bin LIU1, Yan-Hui WANG1,*(), Yu LIU2, Ao TIAN1, Ya-Rui WANG1, Hai-Jun ZUO1   

  1. 1Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Key Laboratory of Forestry Ecology and Environment of State Forestry Administration, Beijing 100091, China
    2College of Soil and Water Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
  • Received:2016-09-13 Accepted:2017-02-28 Online:2017-07-10 Published:2017-08-21
  • Contact: Yan-Hui WANG
  • About author:

    KANG Jing-yao(1991-), E-mail:


Aims Leaf area index (LAI) is an important canopy structure parameter characterizing ecological and hydrological processes, such as forest growth, canopy interception and transpiration. Forest LAI is limited by both light and soil water availability, thus may vary with slope position and seasonality. This study is aimed at the spatiotemporal variation of LAI and its relationship with environmental variables. Methods A 34-years-old Larix gmelinii var. principis-rupprechtii planted forest situated on a typical slope located in a small watershed of Xiangshuihe within Liupan Mountains was selected for LAI observations. Sixteen plots along a 30 m wide transect along the slope was surveyed from May to October of 2015 to measure the monthly canopy LAI. Important findings It showed there was a remarkable difference of LAI among slope positions. The LAI in May decreased toward downslope direction with a scale effect of -0.02/100 m. Whereas for the period from June to August, LAI showed a nonlinear variation along slope positions: increasing from to top slope downward, reaching its maximum at the middle slope, and then decreasing to the slope foot. The scale effect of LAI was +0.15/100, +0.16/100, and +0.18/100 m in the slope range (downward positive) of 0-244.2 m, but -0.09/100, -0.08/100, and -0.07/100 m in the slope range of 244.2-425.1 m for June, July and August, respectively. The LAI increased toward downslope in September and October, with a slope scale effect of +0.03/100 m and +0.09/100 m, respectively. The seasonal variation of LAI-slope relationship showed a shift from the light and temperature control in the early growing season, to the soil water resources control in the mid growing season, and then to an integrated control of many factors in the late growing season. In the early growing season when soil moisture and nutrients were abundant, terrain shading limited the leaf growth in middle and downslope. From early to the mid growing season, the soil moisture on the slope was quickly depleted due to fast evapotranspiration and poor moisture retention of the coarse soil. On the other hand, average solar height increased, and allowed direct light radiation to penetrate to the middle then downslope. The result is that the leaf growth in the middle slope was the strongest in the mid growing season. During the late growing season, the temperature decreased fast in the mountain top to incur earlier leaf fall than the mountain foot. Thus the LAI exhibited the increasing trend toward the downslope.

Key words: Larix gmelinii var. principis-rupprechtii plantation, leaf area index (LAI), slope difference, seasonal variation, scale effect