Canopy structure, nitrogen distribution and whole canopy photosynthetic carbon gain in growing and flowering stands of tall herbs
- Cite this article as:
- Schieving, F., Werger, M.J.A. & Hirose, T. Vegetatio (1992) 102: 173. doi:10.1007/BF00044732
- 127 Downloads
Using a combination of mathematical modeling and field studies we showed that in dense stands of growing herbaceous plants the vertical pattern of leaf nitrogen distribution resembles the pattern of mean light attenuation in the stand and hence tends to maximize total daily photosynthetic carbon gain of the whole stand. Flowering represents a strong sink of nitrogen away from the photosynthetic apparatus and in herbs like Solidago altissima it induces leaf shedding. We studied both the effect of nitrogen reallocation and leaf shedding on the whole canopy photosynthesis and changes in leaf nitrogen distributions in stands moving from the growing to the flowering stage. Despite a decrease in leaf area index and total nitrogen available for photosynthesis in the flowering stand, the leaf nitrogen distribution here also leads to an almost maximum canopy photosynthesis. In both the growing and the flowering stands the leaf area index was higher than calculated optimum values. It is pointed out that this should not necessarily be interpreted as ‘non-adaptive’.