, Volume 74, Issue 3, pp 441-449

Photosynthesis in an Australian rainforest tree, Argyrodendron peralatum , during the rapid development and relief of water deficits in the dry season

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Rates of apparent photosynthesis were measured in situ at five positions between the upper crown and a lower branch of a 34 m tall Argyrodendron peralatum (F.M. Bailey) H.L. Edlin ex I.H. Boas tree, and on an understorey sapling of the same species growing in a northern Australian rainforest. At the end of the dry season, rapid reductions in photosynthetic rates occurred in the upper crown within three days after a rain event, but changes in the lower crown and the sapling were less marked. Complete recovery of photosynthesis followed a second rain event. At high photon flux densities, stomatal conductance to water vapour decreased in a curvilinear fashion as the vapour pressure difference between leaf and air increased. Apparent photosynthesis was linearly related to stomatal conductance on the first clear day after each rain event, but there was no relationship between these parameters at the end of a brief natural drying cycle. Under conditions of adequate water supply, stomatal conductances of both upper crown and understorey leaves increased linearly with increasing photon flux density up to about 300 μmol m-2 s-1. During water deficits, stomatal conductances in leaves from the understorey increased much more rapidly at very low photon flux densities than did conductances in leaves from the upper canopy.