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Tree Physiol. 2006 Jun;26(6):729-41.

Seasonality of photosynthetic parameters in a multi-specific and vertically complex forest ecosystem in the Sierra Nevada of California.

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Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, 151 Hilgard Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3110, USA.


Understanding seasonal variations of photosynthetic parameters is critical for accurate modeling of carbon dioxide (CO2) uptake by ecosystems. Maximum carboxylation velocity (Vcmax), maximum rate of electron transport (Jmax), leaf respiration in the light (R(day)), light-saturated assimilation (Amax) and maximum quantum yield (Phi) were calculated from leaf gas exchange measurements made monthly throughout the year on leaves of three co-occuring evergreen species in a Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex P. Laws. & C. Laws. forest with shrubs in the understory (Arctostaphylos manzanita Parry and Ceanothus cordulatus Kellogg.). The seasonality and relationships of the photosynthetic parameters with environmental and physiological variables differed among the species. The nitrogen-fixing species, C. cordulatus had the highest values of the parameters and the largest seasonal variation, whereas A. manzanita exhibited the lowest seasonality and weaker correlations with environmental variables. In general, variations in Vcmax were highly correlated with light, leaf mass per area and leaf nitrogen content on an area basis. Temporal scaling of the parameters with each other seemed possible for C. cordulatus and P. ponderosa. However, lags between these variables and Vcmax likely reflect the influences of other factors. The acclimation relationships found along vertical light gradients within canopies in other studies cannot be applied to seasonal variations. The Jmax to Vcmax ratio varied seasonally for P. ponderosa and A. manzanita, being lower at high light, high air temperature and low soil water content.

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