, Volume 168, Issue 1, pp 23–34 | Cite as

Photosynthetic parameters, dark respiration and leaf traits in the canopy of a Peruvian tropical montane cloud forest

  • Martine Janet van de WegEmail author
  • Patrick Meir
  • John Grace
  • Guilmair Damian Ramos
Physiological ecology - Original Paper


Few data are available describing the photosynthetic parameters of the leaves of tropical montane cloud forests (TMCF). Here, we present a study of photosynthetic leaf traits (V cmax and J max), foliar dark respiration (R d), foliar nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), and leaf mass per area (LMA) throughout the canopy for five different TMCF species at 3025 m a.s.l. in Andean Peru. All leaf traits showed a significant relationship with canopy height when expressed on an area basis, and V cmax-area and J max-area almost halved when descending through the TMCF canopy. When corrected to a common temperature, average V cmax and J max on a leaf area basis were similar to lowland tropical values, but lower when expressed on a mass basis, because of the higher TMCF LMA values. By contrast, R d on an area basis was higher than found in tropical lowland forests at a common temperature, and similar to lowland forests on a mass basis. The TMCF J maxV cmax relationship was steeper than in other tropical biomes, and we propose that this can be explained by either the light conditions or the relatively low VPD in the studied TMCF. Furthermore, V cmax had a significant—though relatively weak and shallow—relationship with N on an area basis, but not with P, which is consistent with the general hypothesis that TMCFs are N rather than P limited. Finally, the observed V cmax–N relationship (i.e., maximum photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency) was distinctly different from those in tropical and temperate regions, probably because the TMCF leaves compensate for reduced Rubisco activity in cool environments.


Leaf mass per area Nitrogen Phosphorus Vcmax ACi curves 



This study is a product of the Andes Biodiversity and Ecosystems Research Group. This study was financed by a grant from the Andes-Amazon programme of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, a RGS-IBG Geographical Fieldwork Grant, and a scholarship from the University of Edinburgh. We also thank the Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica (ACCA) and INRENA for permitting us to explore the Peruvian tropical forest. We thank Prof. Owen Atkin for his help with the loan of equipment and the manuscript, and Dr. Tomas Domingues for his help with the AC i curve-fitting procedures.

Supplementary material

442_2011_2068_MOESM1_ESM.doc (170 kb)
Supplementary material (DOC 169 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martine Janet van de Weg
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Patrick Meir
    • 1
  • John Grace
    • 2
  • Guilmair Damian Ramos
    • 3
  1. 1.School of GeoSciencesUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  2. 2.School of GeoSciencesUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  3. 3.Universidad de San Antonio Abad del CuscoCuscoPeru
  4. 4.The Ecosystem Centre, Marine Biological LaboratoryWoods HoleUSA

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