Leaf Area Index (LAI)

Definition - What does Leaf Area Index (LAI) mean?

Leaf area (LAI) is a form of measurement that takes into consideration the total leaf area determined per unit of ground area. Determining the LAI lets researchers learn about the atmosphere, vegetation growth, radiation uptake, energy conversion, precipitation, and gas exchange. The vegetation on a deciduous tree is predominantly the leaf area. The stems, twigs, and branches are a much less consideration compared to the tree’s leaves. Evergreen trees are more difficult to determine LAI.

MaximumYield explains Leaf Area Index (LAI)

Leaf area is determined by two forms of measurement: direct and indirect. With direct measurement, the leaves of the deciduous tree are collected after they fall from a tree on a large tarp. An imaging scanner can also be used. The leaf area is then divided by the overall area. Direct measurements are extremely destructive to evergreen trees because the needles must be harvested so the method is usually not used in such locations. Indirect measurements are obtained by plumb lines and inclined point quadrats. The direct method is tedious, expensive, and can be destructive. The indirect method is not as reliable.

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