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Practical Field Methods of Estimating Canopy Cover, PAR, and LAI in Michigan Oak and Pine Stands

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With the increased use of variables such as canopy cover, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and overstory leaf area index (LAI) in forestry research, relationships between these variables and traditional forestry variables must be defined before recommended levels of these research variables can be achieved by forestry practitioners on the ground. We measured basal area, canopy cover, Ozalid percent full light, PAR, and overstory LAI in thinned and unthinned plots within oak and pine stands with the objectives of: (1) determining the relationships between these variables in two common forest types, (2) investigating the feasibility of using basal area to estimate and achieve recommended levels of canopy cover, PAR, and LAI in the field, and (3) examining the possibility of using direct canopy cover and Ozalid light measurements for estimating PAR and LAI. Very strong relationships (r² > 0.90 and P < 0.0001) were indicated between basal area and canopy cover, PAR, and LAI. Direct canopy cover and Ozalid light measurements were also strongly related to PAR and LAI. It is likely that the even-aged structure of the stands studied contributed to these results. The strength of the relationships between the measures examined suggest that practical variables such as basal area could potentially be used by forestry practitioners to estimate and achieve recommended levels of canopy cover, PAR, and LAI in similar oak and pine stands. The possibility also exists for strong relationships between these variables in other stand types that resemble those studied in terms of overstory structure. North. J. Appl. For. 16(1):25-32.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Department of Forest Resources, College of Natural Resources, Utah State University, Logan, Utah 84322

Publication date: March 1, 1999

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Northern Journal of Applied Forestry covers northeastern, midwestern, and boreal forests in the United States and Canada.
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