Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems

Factors affecting growith and distribution of kauri (Agathis australis Salisb.) I. Effect of light on the establishment of Kaura and of Phyllocladus trichomanoides D.Don

RL Bieleski

Australian Journal of Botany 7(3) 252 - 267
Published: 1959


A method for determining the effect of light on seedling distribution in the field is described. It can be applied when seedling frequencies are as low as 1/m2. The frequency distribution of light intensities occupied by seedlings in a quadrat is compared with the frequency distribution of light intensities measured on a grid in the quadrat. This method was used to study the effect of light intensity on the establishment of two New Zealand gymnosperms, kauri (Agathis australis) and Phyllocladus trichomanoides, in the nursery community, a semimature Leptospermum scopariumL. ericoides associes. Kauri and Phyllocladus did not occur at light intensities below 0.015 and 0.018 full daylight respectively. This limitation appeared to be due to the low light intensity presumably limiting photosynthesis. Kauri, but not Phyllocladus, also showed a high light intensity limit, at 0.30 full daylight, above which seedlings did not establish. Reasons are given for considering this as an indirect effect, probably through related solar heating affecting soil temperature or moisture. The optimal light intensity for kauri and Phyllocladus seedling establishment was close to the modal light intensity under the Leptospermum community: Leptospermum spp. were incapable of regenerating under their own cover. These two reasons appear to explain the suitability of the Leptospermum community as a nurse crop for the two conifer seedling species.

© CSIRO 1959

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