University Of Tasmania

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Modelling the impact of defoliation and leaf damage on forest plantation function and production

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 05:34 authored by Battaglia, M, Pinkard, EA, Sands, PJ, Bruce, JL, Quentin, A

After presenting a short review of process-based model requirements to capture the plant dynamic response to defoliation, this paper describes the development and testing of a model of crown damage and defoliation for Eucalyptus. A model that calculates light interception and photosynthetic production for canopies that vary spatially and temporally in leaf area and photosynthetic properties is linked to the forest growth model CABALA. The process of photosynthetic up-regulation following defoliation is modelled with a simple conditional switch that triggers up-regulation when foliar damage or removal causes the ratio of functional leaf area to living tissue in the tree to change.

We show that the model predicts satisfactorily when validated with trees of Eucalyptus nitens and Eucalyptus globulus from a range of sites of different ages, subject to different types of stress and different types of defoliation events (R2 = 0.96 across a range of sites). However, the complexity of particular situations can cause the model to fail (e.g. very heavy defoliation events where branch death occurs).

It is concluded that while the model will not cope with all situations, an appropriate level of generality has been captured to represent many of the physiological processes and feedbacks that occur following defoliation or leaf damage. This makes the model useful for guiding management interventions following pest attack and allows the development of scenarios including climate change impact analyses and decision-making on the merits of post-defoliation fertilisation to expedite recovery.


Publication title

Ecological Modelling: International Journal on Ecological Modelling and Engineering and Systems Ecology










Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)


Elsevier Science Bv

Place of publication

Po Box 211, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1000 Ae

Rights statement

Crown Copyright 2011 Published by Elsevier B.V.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Hardwood plantations

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