Spatial and seasonal variation in leaf temperature within the canopy of a tropical forest

A. Camilo Rey-Sánchez, Martijn Slot, Juan M. Posada, Kaoru Kitajima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Understanding leaf temperature (Tleaf) variation in the canopy of tropical forests is critical for accurately calculating net primary productivity because plant respiration and net photosynthesis are highly sensitive to temperature. The objectives of this study were to (1) quantify the spatiotemporal variation of Tleaf in a semi-deciduous tropical forest in Panama and (2) create a season-specific empirical model to predict Tleaf in the canopy. To achieve this, we used a 42 m tall construction crane for canopy access and monitored the microenvironment within the canopy of mature, 20-35 m tall trees of 5 tropical tree species during the wet and the dry season. Tleaf was correlated to photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) in the wet season but not in the dry season, possibly due to seasonal differences in wind speed, physiology, and canopy phenology. A structural equation model showed that Tleaf is best explained by air temperature (Tair) and PPFD in the wet season, whereas in the dry season, Tair alone predicted most of the variation in Tleaf. These results suggest the utility of an empirical approach to estimate Tleaf variability where simple meteoro logical data are available. This approach can be incorporated in future models of vegetation-atmosphere carbon and water exchange models of mature tropical forests with similar seasonality.

Translated title of the contributionVariación espacial y estacional de la temperatura de las hojas dentro del dosel de un bosque tropical
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-89
Number of pages15
JournalClimate Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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