Relationship between leaf optical properties, chlorophyll fluorescence and pigment changes in senescing Acer saccharum leaves
As we are enjoying the reds, oranges, yellows and browns of fall, Ph.D. student Laura Junker (Ensminger Lab) is studying the science behind fall colours. Her first-first authored paper “Relationship between leaf optical properties, chlorophyll fluorescence and pigment changes in senescing Acer saccharum leaves” was recently published in Tree Physiology. This manuscript investigates the relationship between photosynthetic pigments and optical properties of senescing sugar maple leaves. Although bright colors of senescing leaves are a well-known phenomenon, little is known about their ecophysiological function and their influence on remotely sensed vegetation indices. Laura designed experiments that combined leaf-level measurements of spectral reflectance, image-based color analyses with chlorophyll fluorescence measurements and pigment analyses. She determined vegetation indices suitable to track the progress of senescence, which is relevant to monitoring the effects of climate change on plant performance and phenology.
Congratulations on this colourful first-paper, Laura!