Stomatal dynamics and its importance to carbon gain in two rainforest Piper species
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- Tinoco-Ojanguren, C. & Pearcy, R.W. Oecologia (1993) 94: 388. doi:10.1007/BF00317114
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The effects of leaf-air vapor pressure deficit (VPD) on the transient and steady-state stomatal responses to photon flux density (PFD) were evaluated in Piper auritum, a pioneer tree, and Piper aequale, a shade tolerant shrub, that are both native to tropical forests at Los Tuxtlas, Veracruz, México. Under constant high-PFD conditions, the stomata of shade-acclimated plants of both species were sensitive to VPD, exhibiting a nearly uniform decrease in gs as VPD increased. Acclimation of P. auritum to high light increased the stomatal sensitivity to VPD that was sufflcient to cause a reduction in transpiration at high VPD's. At low PFD, where gs was already reduced, there was little additional absolute change with VPD for any species or growth condition. The stomatal response to 8-min duration lightflecks was strongly modulated by VPD and varied between the species and growth light conditions. In P. aequale shade plants, increased VPD had no effect on the extent of stomatal opening but caused the rate of closure after the lightfleck to be faster. Thus, the overall response to a lightfleck changed from hysteretic (faster opening than closure) to symmetric (similar opening and closing rates). Either high or low VPD caused gs not to return to the steady-state value present before the lightfleck. At high VPD the value after was considerably less than the value before whereas at low VPD the opposite occurred. Shade-acclimated plants of P. auritum showed only a small gs response to lightflecks, which was not affected by VPD. Under sunfleck regimes in the understory, the stomatal response of P. aequale at low VPD may function to enhance carbon gain by increasing the induction state. At high VPD, the shift in the response enhances water use efficiency but at the cost of reduced assimilation.