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Predicting the Spatial Distribution of Leaf Litterfall in a Mixed Deciduous Forest

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An accurate prediction of the spatial distribution of litterfall can improve insight in the interaction between the canopy layer and forest floor characteristics, which is a key feature in forest nutrient cycling. Attempts to model the spatial variability of litterfall have been made across forest types, but the reported models have not yet been compared. We predicted the spatial distribution of leaf litterfall for the same mixed hardwood stand using inverse distance interpolation, ordinary kriging, single and multiple regressions based on plot basal area, and three individual-tree models. Models were calibrated using litterfall data (n = 67) of white birch (Betula pendula Roth), pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.), and northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.). Model performance was compared using an independent validation data set (n = 37). Interpolation techniques did not reliably estimate spatial patterns of leaf litterfall (r < 0.60, n = 37). However, models incorporating tree data, such as linear regressions and individual-tree models, successfully reproduced the observed spatial litterfall heterogeneity of each species (r > 0.80). No model was able to predict the variability of the total leaf litterfall of the three species. We conclude that, for an intimately mixed forest stand, a model that simulates leaf dispersal of individual trees is likely to be the best choice for predicting the spatial distribution of leaf litterfall. FOR. SCI. 50(6):836–847.

Keywords: Nutrient cycling; environmental management; forest; forest canopy; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; litter layer; natural resource management; natural resources; spatial variability; upscaling

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Laboratory of Forestry Ghent University Geraardsbergsesteenweg 267 Melle-Gontrode Belgium 9090 Phone: +32-9-264 90 31;, Fax: +32-9-264 90 92, Email: 2: Nature Department Flemish Community Gebroeders Van Eyckstraat 4-6 Gent Belgium 9000, Email: 3: Parkano Research Station Finnish Forest Research Institute Kaironiementie 54 Parkano Finland 39700 Sebastiaan_, Email:

Publication date: 2004-12-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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