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    Author(s): E. Gregory McPherson; Qingfu Xiao; Natalie S. van DoornNels Johnson; Shannon Albers; Paula J. Peper
    Date: 2018
    Source: Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. 31: 204-211
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.0 MB)


    Shade factors, defined as the percentage of sky covered by foliage and branches within the perimeter of individual tree crowns, have been used to model the effects of trees on air pollutant uptake, building energy use and rainfall interception. For the past 30 years the primary source of shade factors was a database containing values from 47 species. In most cases, values were obtained from measurements on a single tree in one location. To expand this database 11,024 shade factors were obtained for 149 urban tree species through a photometric process applied to the predominant species in 17 U.S. cities. Two digital images were taken of each tree, crowns were isolated, silhouette area defined and shade factors calculated as the ratio of shaded (i.e., foliage and woody material) pixels to total pixels within the crown silhouette area. The highly nonlinear relationship between both age and diameter at breast height (DBH), and shade factor was captured using generalized additive mixed models.

    We found that shade factors increased with age until trees reached about 20 years or 30 cm DBH. Using a single shade factor from a mature tree for a young tree can overestimate actual crown density. Also, in many cases, shade factors were found to vary considerably for the same species growing in different climate zones. We provide a set of tables that contain the necessary values to compute shade factors from DBH or age with species and climate effects accounted for. This new information expands the scope of urban species with measured shade factors and allows researchers and urban foresters to more accurately predict their values across time and space.

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    McPherson, E. Gregory; Xiao, Qingfu; van Doorn, Natalie S.; Johnson, Nels; Albers, Shannon; Peper, Paula J. 2018. Shade factors for 149 taxa of in-leaf urban trees in the USA. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. 31: 204-211.


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    Canopy analysis, Crown density, Digital images, Gap fraction, Leaf area, Tree shade, Urban forest

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