European larch and eastern white pine respond similarly during three years of partial defoliation

Dirk W. Vanderklein, Peter B. Reich

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To test whether trees with different leaf life spans respond differently to defoliation, eastern white pine (Pinus strobus L.) and European larch (Larix decidua Mill.) trees (9 years old in 1991) were partially defoliated by hand between July 1 and 10 in 1989, 1990 and 1991. At the end of 1991, trees of both species had received either 0, 1, 2 or 3 years of defoliation. Trees that received only 1 year of defoliation were defoliated in 1989. Variables measured included photosynthesis, twig water potential, leaf mass per area and leaf nitrogen concentration. There were few significant responses to defoliation in any of the three years of treatment in either species, and only the current-year defoliation treatments caused significant responses. Both species had reduced photosynthetic rates and less negative twig water potentials in response to defoliation in 1989. In 1990 and 1991, the defoliation treatments had no significant effect on any of the parameters measured in European larch. In 1990, there was a significant reduction in foliar nitrogen concentration in eastern white pine in response to defoliation in 1990. In 1991, eastern white pine had significantly less negative twig water potentials in response to defoliation in 1991. Leaf mass per area was not affected by defoliation in either species. We conclude that, for European larch and eastern white pine, differences in leaf life span have no effect on leaf-and twig-level responses to defoliation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-287
Number of pages5
JournalTree Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2000



  • Foliar nitrogen
  • Larix decidua
  • Leaf life span
  • Leaf mass per area
  • Photosynthesis
  • Pinus strobus
  • Twig water potential

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