, Volume 125, Issue 3, pp 350-357

Linking stable oxygen and carbon isotopes with stomatal conductance and photosynthetic capacity: a conceptual model

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Based on measurements of δ18O and δ13C in organic matter of C3-plants, we have developed a conceptual model that gives insight into the relationship between stomatal conductance (g l) and photosynthetic capacity (A max) resulting from differing environmental constraints and plant-internal factors. This is a semi-quantitative approach to describing the long-term effects of environmental factors on CO2 and H2O gas exchange, whereby we estimate the intercellular CO2 concentration (c i) from δ13C and the air humidity from δ18O. Assuming that air humidity is an important factor influencing g l, the model allows us to distinguish whether differences in c i are caused by a response of g l or of A max. As an application of the model we evaluated the isotope data from three species in plots differing in intensity of land use (hay meadows and abandoned areas) at three sites along a south north transect in the Eastern Alps. We found three different δ18O–δ13C response patterns in native and planted grassland species (cultivated in the greenhouse). After preliminary confirmation by gas-exchange measurements we conclude that the proposed model is a promising tool for deriving carbon water relations in different functional groups from δ18O and δ13C isotope data.

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