Changes in shoot properties in relation to vertical positions within the crown of mature canopy trees of Abies mariesii and Abies veitchii
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We investigated current shoot properties in two contrasting vertical positions (leader crown; LC, and lower branch; LB) within the crowns of mature trees of two subalpine conifer species, Abies mariesii and A. veitchii. For both LCs and LBs, shoot length decreased with increasing branching order. However, shoot properties were different between LCs and LBs. Shoots in LCs had more needle biomass per unit of shoot length. Shoots in sunny conditions pack needles closer along the shoot and intercept incoming light more completely. This causes the shoots in the LCs to have more needles. In contrast, less needle packing per unit shoot length in LBs results in the avoidance of mutual shading among needles in order to intercept limited light more effectively. Because branch systems in lower layers tend to be more shaded, the quantity of irradiance received by the shoots in LBs is smaller. Thus, reduced needle amounts on the shoots in LBs reflect the needle arrangement acclimating to the lower light availability. This study suggests the importance of changes in the properties of individual shoot as a component of a branch system and accordingly a whole-crown system in mature canopy trees of A. mariesii and A. veitchii.
Key wordsBiomass allocation Branch system Crown maintenance Current shoot Needle arrangement
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