An experimental approach for crown to whole-canopy defoliation in forests

TitleAn experimental approach for crown to whole-canopy defoliation in forests
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsFahey R, Tanzer D, Alveshere B, Atkins JW, Gough CM, Hardiman B
JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
Date PublishedDec-08-2022

Canopy defoliation is an important source of disturbance in forest ecosystems that has rarely been represented in large-scale manipulation experiments. Scalable crown to canopy level experimental defoliation is needed to disentangle effects of variable intensity, timing, and frequency on forest structure, function, and mortality. We present a novel pressure washing-based defoliation method that can be: implemented at the canopy-scale, throughout the canopy volume, targeted to individual leaves/trees, and completed within a timeframe of hours/days. Pressure washing proved successful at producing consistent leaf-level and whole-canopy defoliation with 10-20% reduction in leaf area index and consistent leaf surface area removal across branches and species. This method allows for stand-scale experimentation on defoliation disturbance in forested ecosystems and has the potential for broad application. Studies utilizing this standardized method could promote mechanistic understanding of defoliation effects on ecosystem structure and function and development of synthetic understanding across forest types, ecoregions, and defoliation sources.

Short TitleCan. J. For. Res.
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