, Volume 83, Issue 4, pp 479-484

A model of the seasonal pattern of carbon acquisition in two woodland herbs, Mercurialis perennis L. and Geum urbanum L.

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Summary

Seasonal changes in the light and temperature dependence of photosynthesis were investigated in field grown plants of Mercurialis perennis and Geum urbanum. In both species changes in photosynthetic capacity were closely related to the development of the overstorey canopy. In G. urbanum there was a marked shift in the temperature dependence of photosynthesis through the season whereas no such pattern was found in M. perennis. Model predictions of field rates of photosynthesis were made using the measurements of light and temperature dependence in the laboratory and validated against field observations. Long term continuous records of light and temperature in the field were used in conjunction with the model to make predictions of carbon acquisition in shoots of the two species through the season. These calculations indicated that G. urbanum was able to take advantage of high light levels just prior to canopy closure through a combination of high photosynthetic capacity, the ability to maintain photosynthesis at relatively low temperatures and the presence of overwintering leaves. In M. perennis leaf development was early enough to utilise the high spring light period. After canopy closure M. perennis maintained a higher average rate of CO2 flux due to a combination of high apparent quantum efficiency and low rates of respiration.