Moss functioning in different taiga ecosystems in interior Alaska
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Carbon dioxide exchange rates in excised 2-year-old shoot sections of five common moss species were measured by infrared gas analysis in mosses collected from different stands of mature vegetation near Fairbanks, Alaska. The maximum rates of net photosynthesis ranged from 2.65 mg CO2 g-1h-1 in Polytrichum commune Hedw. to 0.25 in Spagnum nemoreum Scop. Intermediate values were found in Sphagnum subsecundum Nees., Hylocomium splendens (Hedw.) B.S.G., and Pleurozium schreberi (Brid.) Mitt. Dark respiration rates at 15°C ranged from 0.24 mg CO2 g-1h-1 in S. subsecundum to 0.57 mg CO2 g-1h-1 in H. splendens. The dark respiration rates were found to increase in periods of growth or restoration of tissue (i.e., after desiccation). There was a strong decrease in the rates of net photosynthesis during the winter and after long periods of desiccation.
Due to increasing amounts of young, photosynthetically active tissue there was a gradual increase in the rates of net photosynthesis during the season to maximum values in late August. As an apparent result of constant respiration rates and increasing gross photosynthetic rates, the optimum temperature for photosynthesis at light saturation and field capacity increased during the season in all species except Polytrichum, with a corresponding drop in the compensation light intensities. Sphagnum subsecundum seemed to be the most light-dependent species.
Leaf water content was found to be an important limiting factor for photosynthesis in the field. A comparison between sites showed that the maximum rates of net photosynthesis increased with increasing nutrient content in the soil but at the permafrostfree sites photosynthesis was inhibited by frequent moisture stress.
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