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Assessing foliar chlorophyll contents with the SPAD-502 chlorophyll meter: a calibration test with thirteen tree species of tropical rainforest in French Guiana


  • • Chlorophyll meters such as the SPAD-502 offer a simple, inexpensive and rapid method to estimate foliar chlorophyll content. However, values provided by SPAD-502 are unitless and require empirical calibrations between SPAD units and extracted chlorophyll values.

  • • Leaves of 13 tree species from the tropical rain forest in French Guiana were sampled to select the most appropriate calibration model among the often-used linear, polynomial and exponential models, in addition to a novel homographic model that has a natural asymptote.

  • • The homographic model best accurately predicted total chlorophyll content (μg cm−2) from SPAD units (R 2 = 0.89). Interspecific differences in the homographic model parameters explain less than 7% of the variation in chlorophyll content in our data set.

  • • The utility of the general homographic model for a variety of research and management applications clearly outweighs the slight loss of model accuracy due to the abandon of the species’ effect.


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Correspondence to Bruno Hérault.

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Coste, S., Baraloto, C., Leroy, C. et al. Assessing foliar chlorophyll contents with the SPAD-502 chlorophyll meter: a calibration test with thirteen tree species of tropical rainforest in French Guiana. Ann. For. Sci. 67, 607 (2010).

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  • chlorophyll estimate
  • model calibration
  • homographic functions
  • neotropical trees