Leaf Responses to the Environment and Extrapolation to Larger Scales

  • F. I. Woodward


The existence of the major biomes of the world depends on the conversion of CO2 and photons of solar radiation to carbohydrates by the process of photosynthesis. The efficiency of this process of solar energy conversion is low, reaching about 3% at a maximum and more typically falling to 1% or less (Woodward and Sheehy 1983; Lawlor 1987). The majority of photosynthesis takes place in the leaves, which are most productive when intercepting the direct solar beam. In such a position, leaves are also subjected to the full range and force of the aerial environment with rapid changes in wind speed, solar radiation, CO2 concentration, and humidity. These variations will lead to changes in the net balance between the gains and losses of energy by the leaf, causing fluctuations in leaf temperature. Changes in leaf temperature will simultaneously influence the gradient for transpiration from the leaf and the rates of temperature-dependent processes such as photosynthesis, respiration, and carbohydrate translocation (Jones 1983). The first part of this chapter describes the typical short-term responses (seconds to minutes) of leaves to the environment.


Stomatal Conductance Leaf Area Index Leaf Temperature Water Vapor Pressure Vegetation Height 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

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  • F. I. Woodward

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