, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 159–173

Aboveground biomass allocation, leaf growth, and photosynthesis patterns in tundra plant forms in arctic Alaska

  • Douglas A. Johnson
  • Larry L. Tieszen

DOI: 10.1007/BF00572757

Cite this article as:
Johnson, D.A. & Tieszen, L.L. Oecologia (1976) 24: 159. doi:10.1007/BF00572757


Tundra plant growth forms can generally be characterized as consisting predominantly of low-growing perennial grasses and sedges, perennial herbaceous forbs, dwarf deciduous shrubs, and dwarf evergreen shrubs. Gross aboveground carbon allocation, leaf growth, and photosynthesis pattern studies were initiated to develop a quantitative understanding of the functional importance of these particular tundra growth forms. Photosynthetic capacities of 13 species were determined under standardized exposure conditions using a14CO2 field system and ranged between 5 and 47 mg CO2·g dry wt-1·h-1. These results, in conjunction with detailed leaf growth determinations, support the generalization that species with an evergreen growth form have lower photosynthetic capacities than species with a perennial graminoid, forb, or deciduous shrub growth form. However, these low photosynthetic capacities in evergreen shrubs are associated with relatively extended leaf longevities. Conversely, deciduous shrub forms exhibited high photosynthetic capacities, but were offset by relatively short leaf longevity periods. The perennial grasses, sedges, and forbs showed patterns intermediate to these. As a result, it appears that among tundra species of different growth form, photosynthetic capacity is inversely related to leaf longevity.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas A. Johnson
    • 1
  • Larry L. Tieszen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyAugustana CollegeSioux FallsUSA
  2. 2.Crops Research LaboratoryUtah State UniversityLoganUSA