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Allocating leaf nitrogen for the maximization of carbon gain: Leaf age as a control on the allocation program


Simulations using a biochemically-based model of leaf photosynthesis make it possible to predict the distribution of leaf nitrogen contents that maximizes photosynthetic carbon gain over the canopy of an entire plant. In general, the optimal nitrogen content increased with increasing daily photosynthetically active photon irradiance.

Leaf aging in natural environments tended to produce leaf nitrogen contents that were similar to the optimal values but somewhat more clustered. Nitrogen redistribution over the duration of a leaf involves costs that are smaller than the benefits in increased photosynthesis. The costs could become larger than the benefits if nitrogen were redistributed on a shorter time scale.

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Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City Utah 84112, USA

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Field, C. Allocating leaf nitrogen for the maximization of carbon gain: Leaf age as a control on the allocation program. Oecologia 56, 341–347 (1983).

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  • Nitrogen
  • Photosynthesis
  • Natural Environment
  • Nitrogen Content
  • Leaf Aging