Foliage profiles of individual trees determine competition, self-thinning, biomass and NPP of a Cryptomeria japonica forest stand: A simulation study based on a stand-scale process-based forest model

Motomu Toda, Masayuki Yokosawa, Akihiro Sumida, Tsutomu Watanabe, Toshihiko Hara

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10 Citations (Scopus)


A simulation study was carried out to investigate simultaneously the effects of eco-physiological parameters on competitive asymmetry, self-thinning, stand biomass and NPP in a temperate forest using an atmosphere-vegetation dynamics interactive model (MINoSGI). In this study, we selected three eco-physiological relevant parameters as foliage profiles (i.e. vertical distribution of leaf area density) of individual trees (distribution pattern is described by the parameter η), biomass allocation pattern in individual tree growth (χ) and the maximum carboxylation velocity (Vmax). The position of the maximal leaf area density shifts upward in the canopy with increasing η. For scenarios with η < 4 (foliage concentrated in the lowest canopy layer) or η > 12 (foliage concentrated in the uppermost canopy layer), a low degree of competitive asymmetry was produced. These scenarios resulted in the survival of subordinate trees due to a brighter lower canopy environment when η < 4 or the generation of spatially separated foliage profiles between dominant and subordinate trees when η > 12. In contrast, competition between trees was most asymmetric when 4 ≤ η ≤ 12 (vertically widespread foliage profile in the canopy), especially when η = 8. In such cases, vertically widespread foliage of dominant trees lowered the opportunity of light acquisition for subordinate trees and reduced their carbon gain. The resulting reduction in carbon gain of subordinate trees yielded a higher degree of competitive asymmetry and ultimately higher mortality of subordinate trees. It was also shown that 4 ≤ η ≤ 12 generated higher self-thinning speed, smaller accumulated NPP, litter-fall and potential stand biomass as compared with the scenarios with η < 4 or η > 12. In contrast, our simulation revealed small effects of χ or Vmax on the above-mentioned variables as compared with those of η. In particular, it is notable that greater Vmax would not produce greater potential stand biomass and accumulated NPP although it has been thought that physiological parameters relevant to photosynthesis such as Vmax influence dynamic changes in forest stand biomass and NPP (e.g. the greater the Vmax, the greater the NPP). Overall, it is suggested that foliage profiles rather than biomass allocation or maximum carboxylation velocity greatly govern forest dynamics, stand biomass, NPP and litter-fall.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2272-2280
Number of pages9
JournalEcological Modelling
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Sep 24
Externally publishedYes



  • Biomass allocation pattern
  • Carbon gain of an individual tree
  • Competitive asymmetry
  • Maximum carboxylation velocity
  • Size structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modelling

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