Seasonal Patterns and Remote Spectral Estimation of Canopy Chemistry Across the Oregon Transect

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We examined seasonal changes in canopy chemical concentrations and content in conifer forests growing along a climate gradient in western Oregon, as part of the Oregon Transect Ecosystem Research (OTTER) study. The chemical variables were related to seasonal patterns of growth and production. Statistical comparisons of chemical variables with data collected from two different airborne remote—sensing platforms were also carried out. Total nitrogen (N) concentrations in foliage varied significantly both seasonally and among sites; when expressed as content in the forest canopy, nitrogen varied to a much greater extent and was significantly related to aboveground net primary production (r = 0.99). Chlorophyll and free amino acid concentrations varied more strongly than did total N and may have reflected changes in physiological demands for N. Large variations in starch concentrations were measured from pre— to post—budbreak in all conifer sites. Examination of remote—sensing data from two different airborne instruments suggests the potential for remote measurement of some canopy chemicals. Multivariate analysis of high—resolution spectral data in the near infrared region indicated significant correlations between spectral signals and N concentration and canopy N content; the correlation with canopy N content was stronger and was probably associated in part with water absorption features of the forest canopy. The spectral bands that were significantly correlated with lignin concentration and content were similar to bands selected in the other laboratory and airborne studies; starch concentrations were not significantly related to spectral reflectance data. Strong relationships between the spectral position of specific features in the visible region and chlorophyll were also found.

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Ecological Applications, v. 4, issue 2, p. 280-298