, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 321–331 | Cite as

Seasonal and interannual variations of ecosystem photosynthetic features in an alpine dwarf shrubland on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China

  • H. Q. Li
  • F. W. Zhang
  • Y. N. LI
  • G. M. Cao
  • L. Zhao
  • X. Q. Zhao
Open Access
Original Papers


Ecosystem photosynthetic characteristics are of utmost importance for the estimation of regional carbon budget, but such characteristics are not well understood in alpine regions. We collected CO2 flux data measured by eddy covariance technique over an alpine dwarf shrubland on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau during years 2003–2010; and we quantified the temporal patterns of ecosystem apparent quantum yield (a), saturated photosynthetic rate (P max), and ecosystem dark respiration (R De). Results showed that the strong seasonality of a and R De was driven mainly by air temperature (T a), whereas that of P max was much more determined by leaf area index rather than abiotic factors. Diurnal thermal fluctuation inhibited significantly the daytime photosynthetic capacity. Stepwise regression revealed that the seasonal deviations of a, P max, and R De were significantly controlled by T a. The annual a was regulated mainly by annual growing season T a, which indicated that the response of ecosystem a was instant. The annual variations of P max correlated positively with soil temperature 5 cm below ground (T s) of the annual nongrowing season and those of R De related negatively with the annual nongrowing season precipitation. We suggested that a lagged response regulated the annual P max and the annual R De. Annual deviations of a and R De were both significantly controlled by annual T s, and those of P max were marginally determined by annual PPFD. Thus, the future warming scenario, especially significant for nongrowing seasonal warming in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, would favor ecosystem photosynthetic capacity in the alpine dwarf shrubland.

Additional key words

ecosystem photosynthetic parameters eddy covariance technique leaf area index phenology rectangular hyperbolic light response 



ecosystem apparent quantum yield


amplitude of diurnal temperature


enhanced vegetation index


leaf area index


net ecosystem CO2 exchange


saturated photosynthesis rate


the magnitude of respiration rate change for a change in temperature of 10°C


ecosystem dark respiration


volumetric water content of the soil 10 cm below ground


air temperature


shrub canopy temperature


temperature 5 cm below ground


vapour pressure deficit


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Q. Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • F. W. Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Y. N. LI
    • 1
    • 2
  • G. M. Cao
    • 1
    • 2
  • L. Zhao
    • 1
    • 2
  • X. Q. Zhao
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Northwest Institute of Plateau BiologyChinese Academy of SciencesXining, QinghaiChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Adaptation and Evolution of Plateau BiotaChinese Academy of SciencesXining, QinghaiChina

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