Annals of Botany

Light partitioning in temperate rain forests

In the temperate rainforest of southern Chile, Fajardo and Siefert find that interspecific differences in the leaf mass per area (LMA) trait can explain the fine-scale partitioning of light availability gradients by woody plant species. This niche partitioning potentially facilitates species coexistence at the within-community level.

Depiction of the temperate rain forest understorey light availability in Aiken Park (45°27′S, 72°45′W, 40 m a.s.l), Aysén Region, Chile.
Depiction of the temperate rain forest understorey light availability in Aiken Park (45°27′S, 72°45′W, 40 m a.s.l), Aysén Region, Chile.

Species with high LMA are shown to occur at sites with high light availability, a finding which is the reverse of that traditionally reported for woody systems in the Northern Hemisphere. A high frequency of evergreen shade-intolerant species in these forests may explain the positive correlation between light availability and LMA.

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