, Volume 74, Issue 3, pp 441–449 | Cite as

Photosynthesis in an Australian rainforest tree, Argyrodendron peralatum, during the rapid development and relief of water deficits in the dry season

  • D. Doley
  • D. J. Yates
  • G. L. Unwin
Original Papers


Rates of apparent photosynthesis were measured in situ at five positions between the upper crown and a lower branch of a 34 m tall Argyrodendron peralatum (F.M. Bailey) H.L. Edlin ex I.H. Boas tree, and on an understorey sapling of the same species growing in a northern Australian rainforest. At the end of the dry season, rapid reductions in photosynthetic rates occurred in the upper crown within three days after a rain event, but changes in the lower crown and the sapling were less marked. Complete recovery of photosynthesis followed a second rain event. At high photon flux densities, stomatal conductance to water vapour decreased in a curvilinear fashion as the vapour pressure difference between leaf and air increased. Apparent photosynthesis was linearly related to stomatal conductance on the first clear day after each rain event, but there was no relationship between these parameters at the end of a brief natural drying cycle. Under conditions of adequate water supply, stomatal conductances of both upper crown and understorey leaves increased linearly with increasing photon flux density up to about 300 μmol m-2 s-1. During water deficits, stomatal conductances in leaves from the understorey increased much more rapidly at very low photon flux densities than did conductances in leaves from the upper canopy.

Key words

Rainforest Photosynthesis Transpiration Stomatal conductance Argyrodendron peralatum 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bazzaz FA, Carlson RW (1982) Photosynthetic acclimation to variability in the light environment of early and late successional plants. Oecologia (Berlin) 54:313–316Google Scholar
  2. Bjorkman O, Lundlow MM, Morrow PA (1972) Photosynthetic performance of two rainforest species in their natural habitats and analysis of their gas exchange. Carnegie Inst Wash Yearb 71:94–102Google Scholar
  3. Chazdon RL, Fetcher N (1984) Photosynthetic light environments in a lowland tropical rain forest of Costa Rica. J Ecol 72:553–564Google Scholar
  4. Connor DJ, Tunstall BR, van den Driessche R (1971) An analysis of photosynthetic response in a brigalow forest. Photosynthetica 5:218–225Google Scholar
  5. Cowan IR, Farquhar GD (1977) Stomatal function in relation to leaf metabolism and environment. In: Integration of activity in the higher plant, Symp Soc Exp Biol 31:471–505Google Scholar
  6. Fuchs M, Schulze E-D, Fuchs MI (1977) Spacial distribution of photosynthetic capacity and performance in a mountain spruce forest of Northern Germany. II Climatic control of carbon dioxide uptake. Oecologia (Berlin) 29:329–340Google Scholar
  7. Hellmuth EO (1971) Ecophysiological studies of plants in arid and semi-arid regions in Western Australia. III Comparative studies on photosynthesis, respiration and water relations of ten arid zone and two semi-arid zone plants under winter and late summer climatic conditions. J Ecol 59:225–259Google Scholar
  8. Kwesiga FR, Grace J, Sandford AP (1986) Some photosynthetic characteristics of tropical timber trees as affected by the light regime during growth. Ann Bot 58:23–32Google Scholar
  9. Langenheim JH, Osmond CB, Brooks A, Ferrar PJ (1984) Photosynthetic responses to light in seedlings of selected Amazonian and Australian rainforest tree species. Oecologia (Berlin) 63:215–244Google Scholar
  10. Lugo A (1970) Photosynthetic studies on four species of rainforest seedlings. In: HT Odum (ed) A tropical rain forest, US Atomic Energy Commission. Washington, DC, pp I81-I102Google Scholar
  11. Medina E, Mooney HA, Vasquez-Yanes C (eds) (1984) Physiological ecology of plants of the wet tropics. Dr W Junk, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  12. Mooney HA, Field CD, Vasquez-Yanes C (1984) Photosynthetic characteristics of wet tropical forest plants. In: Medina E, Mooney HA, Vasquez-Yanes C (eds) Physiological ecology of plants of the wet tropics, Dr W Junk, The Hague, pp 129–138Google Scholar
  13. Oberbauer SF, Strain BR (1985) Effects of light regime on the growth and physiology of Pentaclethra macroloba (Mimosaceae) in Costa Rica. J Trop Ecol 1:303–320Google Scholar
  14. Pearcy RW (1983) The light environment and growth of C3 and C4 tree species in the understorey of a Hawaiian forest. Oecologia (Berlin) 58:19–25Google Scholar
  15. Pearcy RW (1987) Photosynthetic gas exchange responses of Australian tropical forest trees in canopy, gap and understorey microenvironments (in press)Google Scholar
  16. Schulze E-D (1970) Der CO2-Gaswechsel der Buche (Fagus silvatica L.) in Abhängigkeit von den Klimafaktoren im Freiland. Flora 159:177–232Google Scholar
  17. Schulze E-D, Fuchs M, Fuchs MI (1977a) Spacial distribution of photosynthetic capacity and performance in a mountain spruce forest of Northern Germany. I Biomass distribution and daily CO2 uptake in different crown layers. Oecologia (Berlin) 29:43–61Google Scholar
  18. Schulze E-D, Fuchs M, Fuchs MI (1977b) Spacial distribution of photosynthetic capacity and performance in a mountain spruce forest of Northern Germany. III The significance of the evergreen habit. Oecologia (Berlin) 3:239–248Google Scholar
  19. Stephens GR, Waggoner PE (1970) Carbon dioxide exchange of a tropical rain forest. Part I. BioScience 20:1050–1053Google Scholar
  20. Stocker O (1971) Der Wasser- und Photosynthese-Haushalt von Wüstenpflanzen der mauritanischen Sahara. I Regengrune und immergrüne Bäume. Flora 159:539–572Google Scholar
  21. Torquebiau E (1988) Tropical rain forest dynamics, architecture and photosynthetically active radiation environment. Aust J Pl Physiol 15 (in press)Google Scholar
  22. Watts WR, Neilson RE, Jarvis PG (1976) Photosynthesis in sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr.). VII Measurements of stomatal conductance and 14CO2 uptake in a forest canopy. J Appl Ecol 13:623–638Google Scholar
  23. Webb LJ, Tracey JG (1981) Australian rainforests: patterns and change. In: Keast A (ed) Ecological biogeography of Australia. W Junk, The Hague, pp 602–694Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Doley
    • 1
  • D. J. Yates
    • 1
  • G. L. Unwin
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.CSIRO Division of Forest ResearchAthertonAustralia

Personalised recommendations