, Volume 72, Issue 3, pp 449-456

Photosynthetic light acclimation in two rainforest Piper species with different ecological amplitudes

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Piper auritum (H.B. & K.), a pioneer tree restricted to open sites and Piper hispidum (Swartz), a shrub common in sites ranging from recent clearings to shaded understory, both adjust photosynthetic characteristics in response to light availability during growth. The sensitivity of photosynthetic capacity to light availability during growth was indistinguishable for the two species growing in their natural habitat. Photosynthetic capacity was strongly correlated with leaf nitrogen in both species, and the relationship was similar between species. Dark respiration and leaf specific mass were more sensitive to light during growth in P. hispidum, the species with the broad habitat ange, than in P. auritum. In general, similarities between the species were more striking than differences between them. The differences in dark respiration could have important implications for carbon balance. The difference in the responsiveness of leaf specific mass to light indicates that the broad-ranging species maintains access to modes of response little utilized by the open-site specialist. We did not and, in the gas exchange characteristics, any evidence that the open site specialist is better suited than the generalist to high-light sites.