, Volume 91, Issue 3, pp 305–311 | Cite as

Carbon isotope composition in relation to leaf gas exchange and environmental conditions in Hawaiian Metrosideros polymorpha populations

  • F. C. Meinzer
  • P. W. Rundel
  • G. Goldstein
  • M. R. Sharifi
Original Papers


Carbon isotope composition, photosynthetic gas exchange, and nitrogen content were measured in leaves of three varieties of Metrosideros polymorpha growing in sites presenting a variety of precipitation, temperature and edaphic regimes. The eight populations studied could be divided into two groups on the basis of their mean foliar δ13C values, one group consisting of three populations with mean δ13C values ca.-26‰ and another group with δ13C values ca.-28‰. Less negative δ13C values appeared to be associated with reduced physiological availability of soil moisture resulting from hypoxic conditions at a poorly drained high elevation bog site and from low precipitation at a welldrained, low elevation leeward site. Gas exchange measurements indicated that foliar δ13C and intrinsic wateruse efficiency were positively correlated. Maximum photosynthetic rates were nearly constant while maximum stomatal conductance varied substantially in individuals with foliar δ13C ranging from-29 to-24‰. In contrast with the patterns of δ13C observed, leaf nitrogen content appeared to be genetically determined and independent of site characteristics. Photosynthetic nitrogenuse efficiency was nearly constant over the range of δ13C observed, suggesting that a compromise between intrinsic water- and N-use efficiency did not occur. In one population variations in foliar δ13C and gas exchange with leaf cohort age, caused the ratio of intercellular to atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 predicted from gas exchange and that calculated from δ13C to be in close agreement only in the two youngest cohorts of fully expanded leaves. The results indicated that with suitable precautions concerning measurement protocol, foliar δ13C and gas exchange measurements were reliable indicators of potential resource use efficiency by M. polymorpha along environmental gradients.

Key words

Carbon isotope ratio Gas exchange Metrosideros Nitrogen-use efficiency Water-use efficiency Bog 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anonymous (1984) Modeling 13C. In: Harris JM, Nickerson EC (eds), Geophysical monitoring for climatic change No. 12. US Dept. of Commerce, Boulder, CO, pp 95–96Google Scholar
  2. Aradhya KM, Mueller-Dombois D, Ranker TA (1991) Genetic evidence for recent and incipient speciation in the evolution of Hawaiian Metrosideros (Myrtaceae). Heredity 67: 129–138Google Scholar
  3. Canfield JE (1986) The role of edaphic factors and plant water relations in plant distribution in the bog/wet forest complex of Alakai Swamps, Kauai, Hawaii, Ph.D. Diss. Univ. of Hawaii, Honolulu 280pGoogle Scholar
  4. Condon AG, Richards RA, Farquhar GD (1987) Carbon isotope discrimination is positively correlated with grain yield and dry matter production in field-grown wheat. Crop Sci 27:996–1001Google Scholar
  5. DeLucia EH, Schlesinger WH (1991) Resource-use efficiency and drought tolerance in adjacent Great Basin and Sierran plants. Ecology 72:51–58Google Scholar
  6. Downton WJS, Loveys BR, Grant WJR (1988) Non-uniform stomatal closure induced by water stress causes putative non-stomatal inhibition of photosynthesis. New Phytol 110:503–509Google Scholar
  7. Ehleringer JR (1990) Correlations between carbon isotope discrimination and leaf conductance to water vapor in common beans. Plant Physiol 93:1422–1425Google Scholar
  8. Ehleringer JR, Cooper TA (1988) Correlations between carbon isotope ratio and microhabitat in desert plants. Oecologia 76:562–566Google Scholar
  9. Farquhar GD, Ball MC, Caemmerer S von, Roksandic Z (1982a) Effect of salinity and humidity on 13C value of halophytesevidence for diffusional isotope fractionation determined by the ratio of intercellular/atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 under different environmental conditions. Oecologia 52:121–124Google Scholar
  10. Farquhar GD, O'Leary MH, Berry JA (1982b) On the relationship between carbon isotope discrimination and intercellular carbon dioxide concentration in leaves. Aust J Plant Physiol 9:121–137Google Scholar
  11. Farquhar GD, Richards RA (1984) Isotopic composition of plant carbon correlates with water-use efficiency of wheat genotypes. Aust J Plant Physiol 11:539–552Google Scholar
  12. Field C, Merino J, Mooney HA (1983) Compromises between water-use efficiency and nitrogen-use efficiency in five species of California evergreens. Oecologia 60:384–389Google Scholar
  13. Guy RD, Reid DM, Krouse HR (1986) Factors affecting 13C/12C ratios of inland halophytes. I. Controlled studies on growth and isotopic composition of Puccinellia nuttalliana. Can J Bot 64:2693–2699Google Scholar
  14. Hubick KT, Farquhar GD, Shorter R (1986) Correlation between water-use efficiency and carbon isotope discrimination in diverse peanut (Arachis) germplasm. Aust J Plant Physiol 13:803–816Google Scholar
  15. Hubick KT, Farquhar GD (1989) Carbon isotope discrimination and the ratio of carbon gained to water lost in barley cultivars. Plant Cell Env 12:795–804Google Scholar
  16. Körner CH, Farquhar GD, Roksandic Z (1988) A global survey or carbon isotope discrimination in plants from high altitude. Oecologia 74:623–632Google Scholar
  17. Levitt J (1980) Excess water or flooding stress. In: Responses of plants to environmental stresses vol II. Academic Press, New York, pp 213–228Google Scholar
  18. Martin B, Thorstenson YR (1988) Stable carbon isotope composition (13C), water-use efficiency, and biomass productivity of Lycopersicon esculentum, Lycopersicon pennellii, and the F1 hybrid. Plant Physiol 88:213–217Google Scholar
  19. Meinzer FC, Goldstein G, Grantz DA (1990) Carbon isotope discrimination in coffee genotypes grown under limited water supply. Plant Physiol 92:130–135Google Scholar
  20. Meinzer FC, Ingamells JL, Crisosto CH (1991) Carbon isotope discrimination correlates with bean yield of diverse coffee seedling populations. HorScience 26:1413–1414Google Scholar
  21. Pereira JS (1990) Whole-plant regulation and productivity in forest trees. In: Davies WJ, Jeffcoat B (eds), Importance of Root to Shoot Communication in Responses to Environmental Stress. British Soc. for Plant Growth Regulation Monogr. 21, Bristol pp 237–250Google Scholar
  22. Stemmermann L (1983) Ecological studies of Hawaiian Metrosideros in a successional context. Pac Sci 37:361–373Google Scholar
  23. Vitousek PM, Field CB, Matson PA (1990) Variation in foliar δ13C in Hawaiian Metrosideros polymorpha: A case of internal resistance? Oecologia 84:362–370Google Scholar
  24. Wagner WL, Herbst DR, Sohmer SH (1990) Manual of the flowering plants of Hawaii. Bishop Museum Special Publication 83. Univ. of Hawaii Press, Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu 1853pGoogle Scholar
  25. White JW, Castillo JA, Ehleringer JR (1990) Associations between root growth and carbon isotope discrimination in Phaseolus vulgaris under water deficit. Aust J Plant Physiol 17:189–198Google Scholar
  26. Wright GC, Hubick KT, Farquhar GD (1988) Discrimination in carbon isotopes of leaves correlates with water-use efficiency of field-grown peanut cultivars. Aust J Plant Physiol 15:815–825Google Scholar
  27. Zimmerman JK, Ehleringer JR (1990) Carbon isotope ratios are correlated with irradiance levels in the Panamanian orchid Catasetum viridiflavum. Oecologia 83:247–249Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. C. Meinzer
    • 1
    • 2
  • P. W. Rundel
    • 1
  • G. Goldstein
    • 1
    • 3
  • M. R. Sharifi
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Biomedical and Environmental SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Hawaiian Sugar Planters' AssociationAieaUSA
  3. 3.Department of BotanyUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA

Personalised recommendations