Limitations due to water stress on leaf net photosynthesis of Quercus coccifera in the Portuguese evergreen scrub
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- Tenhunen, J.D., Lange, O.L., Harley, P.C. et al. Oecologia (1985) 67: 23. doi:10.1007/BF00378446
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Gas exchange characteristics in leaves of the sclerophyll shrub Quercus coccifera were studied in the natural habitat in Portugal during spring and during the summer dry period. Compared to other sclerophyll species growing at the same site, photosynthesis in leaves of Quercus coccifera was less affected by water stress. Moderate water stress after six weeks of drought led to large decreases in stomatal conductance but no change in mesophyll photosynthetic capacity as compared to late spring. Leaf internal CO2 pressure remained near 220 μbar during diurnal courses in the spring. On midsummer days, leaf internal CO2 decreased from a late morning value of 200 μbar to a late afternoon value of approximately 150 μbar. In contrast to Quercus suber (Tenhunen et al. 1984), restriction of CO2 supply due to stomatal closure reduced net CO2 uptake at midday and in the afternoon during midsummer. A decrease in leaf carboxylation efficiency and an increase in CO2 compensation point at midday also played an important role in determining the diurnal course of net photosynthesis. During the late stages of drought in September, severe water stress led to reduction in mesophyll photosynthetic capacity and further reduction in leaf conductance. The observed decrease in mesophyll photosynthetic capacity was correlated with decrease in the daily minimum leaf water potential to greater negative values than-30 bar. At this time, CO2 saturated photosynthetic rates decreased as much as 50% over the course of a day when measured at constant saturating light, 32° C leaf temperature, and a water vapor mole fraction difference between leaf and air of 30 mbar bar-1.