Light partitioning in temperate rain forests

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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.

Reference

Fajardo, A., & Siefert, A. (2016). Temperate rain forest species partition fine-scale gradients in light availability based on their leaf mass per area (LMA). Annals of Botany, 118(7), 1307–1315. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcw184


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