An article has just been published in the “Agricultural and Forest Meteorology” journal on how transmittance could be used to monitor tree leaf phenology and development for sessile oak (Quercus petraea).
Perot, T., P. Balandier, C. Couteau, S. Perret, V. Seigner and N. Korboulewsky (2019). “Transmitted light as a tool to monitor tree leaf phenology and development applied to Quercus petraea.” Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 275: 37-46. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agrformet.2019.05.010.
Better knowledge and a more complete long-term monitoring of tree species phenology and tree foliage development are crucial to accurately estimating the impact of climate change on forest ecosystems functioning and on forest species distribution. We set up global solar radiation sensors under the forest canopy and continuously recorded solar radiation in order to follow the development of sessile oak (Quercus petraea L.) foliage in pure stands over four consecutive years and for two levels of stand density. At the same time, we made phenological observations to determine bud burst date. One of our goals was to link observed bud burst dates and transmittance measurements. Our results show that solar radiation transmittance during the leaf unfolding period followed a sigmoid-shaped curve; and that it was possible to fit a generalized logistic model to determine a set of parameters characterizing tree foliage and its development during the unfolding period. Among these parameters, we suggest that the date at which solar radiation interception by foliage reaches 50% could be used to monitor the beginning of the growing season over the long term. The relationship between observed bud burst date and the transmittance model parameters was more complex than we expected. We tested several indices to deduce the date of bud burst from transmittance. We showed that when radiation interception due to foliage reached 10%, this indicated the observed bud burst date. Finally, a linear model including parameters from the generalized logistic models of transmittance as predictors explained 57% of the variability in bud burst date. Complementary research combining light measurements and phenological observations over a longer period of time is needed to know whether these relationships could help estimate bud burst date regardless of the year or the stand density.