The goal of the study was to determine circadian movements of silver birch (Petula Bendula) branches and foliage detected with terrestrial laser scanning (TLS). The study consisted of two geographically separate experiments conducted in Finland and in Austria. Both experiments were carried out at the same time of the year and under similar outdoor conditions. Experiments consisted of 14 (Finland) and 77 (Austria) individual laser scans taken between sunset and sunrise. The resulting point clouds were used in creating a time series of branch movements. In the Finnish data, the vertical movement of the whole tree crown was monitored due to low volumetric point density. In the Austrian data, movements of manually selected representative points on branches were monitored. The movements were monitored from dusk until morning hours in order to avoid daytime wind effects. The results indicated that height deciles of the Finnish birch crown had vertical movements between -10.0 and 5.0 cm compared to the situation at sunset. In the Austrian data, the maximum detected representative point movement was 10.0 cm. The temporal development of the movements followed a highly similar pattern in both experiments, with the maximum movements occurring about an hour and a half before (Austria) or around (Finland) sunrise. The results demonstrate the potential of terrestrial laser scanning measurements in support of chronobiology.
Keywords: chronobiology; circadian rhythm; plant movement; terrestrial laser scanning; time series.