Rapid photosynthetic acclimation of Shorea johorensis seedlings after logging disturbance in Central Kalimantan
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This study examined the photosynthetic acclimation of pre-existing Shorea johorensis (Dipterocarpaceae) seedlings to the change in conditions that occurs at the time of logging in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. The hypothesis was that the seedlings would be unable to acclimate beyond partially open conditions after canopy disturbance caused by logging, therefore limiting the potential for regeneration in the most open areas. Bleaching and reductions in the predawn ratio of variable to maximum fluorescence (Fv/Fm) indicated chronic photoinhibition and damage to the previously shade-adapted leaves of seedlings in an area logged 2 weeks earlier. The majority of seedlings in partially open and open environments of an area logged 3 months earlier were already growing fast. Leaves that had developed in the new environment showed only small reductions in predawn Fv/Fm and large increases in the light saturated rate of photosynthesis (Amax) per unit area when compared to shaded seedlings. Leaves in the most open environments had higher but more variable nitrogen concentrations, Amax per unit area and Amax per unit mass when compared to seedlings in partially open environments. Increases in dark respiration were disproportionately large compared to increases in Amax, and may have been the result of increased investment in photoprotective mechanisms. The response of stomatal conductance to the vapour pressure deficit and leaf temperature was examined, but it suggested only a 10% reduction in daily leaf level carbon gain in open environments. The ratio of leaf area to fine root mass was highest in shade-suppressed and newly exposed seedlings, suggesting a potential hydraulic limitation to transpiration during acclimation. However, rainfall during this period was high and leaf water potentials did not differ between disturbed and undisturbed environments. S. johorensis seedlings were capable of significant acclimation to conditions more extreme than partial canopy opening. Low seedling density after logging during the wet season cannot be explained by a limited potential for photosynthetic acclimation.
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