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Simple assessment of needleleaf and broadleaf chlorophyll content using a flatbed color scanner

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Total chlorophyll a and b content (Chlab) of leaves is an important indicator of the photosynthetic capacity, nutritional condition, and health status of plants. Developing low-cost, easily accessible methods for estimating foliar Chlab of needleleaf species would enable a broad range of forestry applications. We evaluated data acquired using an off-the-shelf flatbed color scanner to assess its utility in quantifying needleleaf Chlab. Red and green digital numbers (DN) of the scan image were obtained from needle leaves of oneseed juniper (Juniperus monosperma (Engelm.) Sarg.) and piñon pine (Pinus edulis Engelm.) in addition to two broadleaf species for comparison purposes. Values of laboratory-determined Chlab (range 1.5–64.0 µg·cm–2) were then predicted using the DN values from the scanner-imaged needle leaves as a regression estimator. The red or green DN values of the scanner-imaged needle leaves were curvilinearly related to Chlab with an r 2 of 0.67 (RMSE = 4.72 µg·cm–2, p < 0.001) for juniper needles and an r 2 of 0.54 (RMSE = 5.51 µg·cm–2, p < 0.001) for pine needles. Although our results suggest that flatbed scanner derived Chlab estimates are not suitable for applications where highly accurate Chlab estimates are required, the technique is likely to be a useful tool for forest practitioners in managing tree nutrition and health.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Geospatial Laboratory for Environmental Dynamics, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-1135, USA. 2: Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center, P.O. Box 370, Pendleton, OR 97801, USA. 3: Biology Department, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001, USA. 4: McCall Outdoor Science School, University of Idaho, McCall, ID 83638, USA.

Publication date: July 5, 2011

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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