International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 221–226

Seasonal changes in the photosynthetic capacity of canopy oak (Quercus robur) leaves: the impact of slow development on annual carbon uptake

  • M. D. Morecroft
  • V. J. Stokes
  • J. I. L. Morison
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00484-003-0173-3

Cite this article as:
Morecroft, M.D., Stokes, V.J. & Morison, J.I.L. Int J Biometeorol (2003) 47: 221. doi:10.1007/s00484-003-0173-3

Abstract

The photosynthetic development of pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) sun leaves in a mature woodland canopy in Oxfordshire, southern England, was investigated in situ during 3 years with contrasting weather conditions. Development of full photosynthetic capacity (indicated by light-saturated net assimilation rates, Amax, typical of the summer period) took between approximately 50 and 70 days after budbreak in different years. This slow development means that these leaves do not utilise a substantial fraction of the seasonal peak of solar irradiance. During the late autumn senscence period the photosynthetic capacity declined over a 2-week period, but as this is a time of low irradiance, the loss of potential photosynthesis was relatively small. The consequences of these developmental changes and differences in bud break dates for daily and seasonal leaf carbon balance were investigated through a simple light-response photosynthetic model. Seasonal changes in photosynthetic capacity would decrease annual carbon uptake per unit leaf area by about 23% compared to that potentially possible if leaves photosynthesised at peak rates throughout the growing season. This difference is likely to be up to 30% larger in years with late budburst and as low as 18% in years with early budburst.

Keywords

PhenologyForestCarbon balanceMature treesClimate change

Copyright information

© ISB 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. D. Morecroft
    • 1
  • V. J. Stokes
    • 2
  • J. I. L. Morison
    • 2
  1. 1.NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Oxford University Field Laboratory, WythamOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Wivenhoe ParkColchesterUK
  3. 3.Forest Research, Alice Holt Lodge, WreccleshamFarnhamUK