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Seasonal variation in the canopy color of temperate evergreen conifer forests

Seyednasrollah, Bijan and Bowling, David R. and Cheng, Rui and Logan, Barry A. and Magney, Troy S. and Frankenberg, Christian and Yang, Julia C. and Young, Adam M. and Hufkens, Koen and Arain, M. Altaf and Black, T. Andrew and Blanken, Peter D. and Bracho, Rosvel and Jassal, Rachhpal and Hollinger, David Y. and Law, Beverly E. and Nesic, Zoran and Richardson, Andrew D. (2021) Seasonal variation in the canopy color of temperate evergreen conifer forests. New Phytologist, 229 (5). pp. 2586-2600. ISSN 0028-646X. PMCID PMC7898516. doi:10.1111/nph.17046.

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Evergreen conifer forests are the most prevalent land cover type in North America. Seasonal changes in the color of evergreen forest canopies have been documented with near‐surface remote sensing, but the physiological mechanisms underlying these changes, and the implications for photosynthetic uptake, have not been fully elucidated. Here, we integrate on‐the‐ground phenological observations, leaf‐level physiological measurements, near surface hyperspectral remote sensing and digital camera imagery, tower‐based CO₂ flux measurements, and a predictive model to simulate seasonal canopy color dynamics. We show that seasonal changes in canopy color occur independently of new leaf production, but track changes in chlorophyll fluorescence, the photochemical reflectance index, and leaf pigmentation. We demonstrate that at winter‐dormant sites, seasonal changes in canopy color can be used to predict the onset of canopy‐level photosynthesis in spring, and its cessation in autumn. Finally, we parameterize a simple temperature‐based model to predict the seasonal cycle of canopy greenness, and we show that the model successfully simulates interannual variation in the timing of changes in canopy color. These results provide mechanistic insight into the factors driving seasonal changes in evergreen canopy color and provide opportunities to monitor and model seasonal variation in photosynthetic activity using color‐based vegetation indices.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle ItemCode
Seyednasrollah, Bijan0000-0002-5195-2074
Bowling, David R.0000-0002-3864-4042
Cheng, Rui0000-0002-3003-8339
Logan, Barry A.0000-0003-3920-2139
Magney, Troy S.0000-0002-9033-0024
Frankenberg, Christian0000-0002-0546-5857
Yang, Julia C.0000-0001-9698-9033
Young, Adam M.0000-0003-2668-2794
Hufkens, Koen0000-0002-5070-8109
Arain, M. Altaf0000-0002-1433-5173
Black, T. Andrew0000-0002-7494-9767
Blanken, Peter D.0000-0002-7405-2220
Bracho, Rosvel0000-0002-8015-9796
Jassal, Rachhpal0000-0002-6727-5215
Hollinger, David Y.0000-0002-4284-1575
Law, Beverly E.0000-0002-1605-1203
Nesic, Zoran0000-0001-5728-513X
Richardson, Andrew D.0000-0002-0148-6714
Additional Information:© 2020 The Authors New Phytologist © 2020 New Phytologist Foundation. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Issue Online: 03 February 2021; Version of Record online: 01 December 2020; Accepted manuscript online: 29 October 2020; Manuscript accepted: 13 October 2020; Manuscript received: 23 July 2020. This is a product of the IMGG workshop held in Flagstaff, AZ, in May 2019. ADR and DRB thank J. Page, J. White, and D. Evans for inspiration. ADR acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation, through the Macrosystems Biology (awards EF‐1065029 and EF‐1702697) and Long‐Term Ecological Research (award DEB‐1832210) programs. DRB acknowledges support from the NASA Carbon Monitoring Systems (awards NNX16AP33G and 80NSSC20K0010) and ABoVE (80NSSC19M0130) programs, and the National Science Foundation, through the Macrosystems Biology and NEON‐Enabled Science program (DEB‐1926090). Thanks to flux tower scientists for hosting the PhenoCams and providing flux and met data, and to many agencies for funding the flux towers. PhenoCam acknowledgments for individual sites are presented in Supporting Information. Needle pigments were quantified by Sophia Lopez, who held a Langbein Research Fellowship (Bowdoin College), with Jaret Reblin’s support. The authors declare no conflict of interest. Author contributions: ADR and DRB planned the IMGG workshop and designed the research. BS, DRB, RC, BAL, TSM, CF, JCY, AMY and KH conducted research. MAA, TAB, PDB, RB, RJ, DYH, BEL and ZN contributed tower measurements. BS, RC, DRB and ADR analyzed data. BS, DRB and ADR drafted the manuscript with input from RC, BAL, TSM and KH. All authors provided feedback on manuscript drafts and approved the manuscript for submission. Data availability: Freely available code and data can be accessed from
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Bowdoin CollegeUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:AmeriFlux; evergreen conifer; phenology; seasonality; PhenoCam; PRI; xanthophyll
Issue or Number:5
PubMed Central ID:PMC7898516
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201103-074354900
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Seyednasrollah, B., Bowling, D.R., Cheng, R., Logan, B.A., Magney, T.S., Frankenberg, C., Yang, J.C., Young, A.M., Hufkens, K., Arain, M.A., Black, T.A., Blanken, P.D., Bracho, R., Jassal, R., Hollinger, D.Y., Law, B.E., Nesic, Z. and Richardson, A.D. (2021), Seasonal variation in the canopy color of temperate evergreen conifer forests. New Phytol, 229: 2586-2600.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:106388
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:04 Nov 2020 18:35
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:53

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