Original Papers

Oecologia

, Volume 87, Issue 1, pp 110-117

The effect of light quantity and quality during development on the photosynthetic characteristics of six Australian rainforest tree species

  • M. H. TurnbullAffiliated withDepartment of Botany, The University of Queensland

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Summary

Seedlings of six subtropical rainforest tree species representing early (Omalanthus populifolius, Solanum aviculare), middle (Duboisia myoporoides, Euodia micrococca) and late (Acmena ingens, Argyrodendron actinophyllum) successional stages in forest development were grown in a glasshouse, under four levels of neutral shade (60%, 15%, 5%, 1% of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) in incident sunlight) and three levels of selectively filtered shade (producing 15%, 5%, 1% of PAR). This design served to analyse the interactions between reduced photon flux density (PFD) and reduced red/far-red (R/FR) ratio in their effects on selected photosynthetic characteristics of each species. The light-saturated rate of photosynthesis was significantly influenced by growth irradiance in five of the six species, with all of these showing a non-linear decrease in maximum assimilation rate from 60% down to 1% PAR. The degree of acclimation to this range was not clearly related to the successional status of the species. Dark respiration was more sensitive to growth irradiance in the early- and mid-stage species than in the late-stage species. Although levels of dark respiration were clearly greater in leaves of early- and mid-stage species from the highest light levels, differences between successional groups were negligible at 1% PAR. Growth in filtered shade, typical of that beneath a closed canopy, resulted in lower photosynthetic capacities and quantum yields in those species which did respond. Although dark respiration rates were more sensitive to filtered shade in the early-stage than in the late-stage species, there was no evidence from other gas exchange characteristics to suggest that overall sensitivity to light quality (as characterised by the R/FR ratio) is greater in early successional-stage species.

Key words

Rainforest Photosynthesis Dark respiration Growth irradiance R/FR ratio