, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 371–376

Relationships between growth, photosynthesis and competitive interactions for a C3 and C4 plant


  • Robert W. Pearcy
    • Department of BotanyUniversity of California
  • Nina Tumosa
    • Department of BotanyUniversity of California
  • Kimberlyn Williams
    • Department of BotanyUniversity of California

DOI: 10.1007/BF00346497

Cite this article as:
Pearcy, R.W., Tumosa, N. & Williams, K. Oecologia (1981) 48: 371. doi:10.1007/BF00346497


The relationships of photosynthetic characteristics to the competitive interactions of a C3 plant, Chenopodium album, and a C4 plant, Amaranthis retroflexus, were investigated in different temperature and water supply regimes. Both species had similar photosynthetic rates at 25°C, but at higher temperatures, Amaranthus had substantially greater rates than Chenopodium. Conversely, at lower temperatures, Chenopodium had an advantage. The competitive abilities in mixtures exhibited a close parallel to the photosynthetic performances with Amaranthus having an advantage at high temperatures and Chenopodium an advantage at low temperatures. These competitive outcomes were determined primarily by differences in relative growth rates prior to canopy closure. In the respective, temperature regimes, the species having the highest photosynthetic rate, which resulted an more rapid growth, overtopped and shaded the other species at the time of canopy closure. These results demonstrate that differences in photosynthetic temperature response between C4 and C3 plants can be an important determinant in competitive interactions, but at least in this case, the influence is primarily through, events prior to the actual initiation of competition.

In contrast to temperature, growth of the plants under limited water supply had no influence on the competitive interactions. Thus, the presence of the C4 pathway alone was not sufficient to yield a competitive advantage over the C3 species under water limited conditions.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1981