Seasonal changes in photosynthesis of eight savanna tree species

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Tree Physiology, 1999, 19 (10), pp. 665 - 671
Issue Date:
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Seasonal variations in carbon assimilation of eight tree species of a north Australian tropical savanna were examined over two wet seasons and one dry season (18 months). Assimilation rates (A) in the two evergreen species, Eucalyptus tetrodonta F. Muell. and E. miniata A. Cunn. ex Schauer, were high throughout the study although there was a 10-20% decline in the dry season compared with the wet season. The three semi-deciduous species (Erythrophleum chlorostachys (F. Muell.) Baillon, Eucalyptus clavigera A. Cunn. ex Schauer, and Xanthostemon paradoxus F. Muell.) showed a 25-75% decline in A in the dry season compared with the wet season, and the deciduous species (Terminalia ferdinandiana Excell, Planchonia careya (F. Muell.) Kunth, and Cochlospermum fraseri Planchon) were leafless for several months in the dry season. Generally, the ratio of intercellular CO2 concentration to ambient CO2 concentration (C(i):C(a)) was larger in the wet season than in the dry season, indicating a smaller stomatal limitation of photosynthesis in the wet season compared with the dry season. In all species, the C(i):C(a) ratio and A were essentially independent of leaf-to-air vapor pressure difference (LAVPD) during the wet season, but both parameters generally declined with increasing LAVPD in the dry season. The slope of the positive correlation between A and transpiration rate (E) was less in the wet season than in the dry season. There was no evidence that high E inhibited A. Instantaneous transpiration efficiency was lowest in the wet season and highest during the dry season. Nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE) was higher in the wet season than in the dry season because the decline in A in the dry season was proportionally larger than the decline in foliar nitrogen content. In the wet season, evergreen species exhibited higher NUE than semi-deciduous and deciduous species. In all species, A was linearly correlated with specific leaf area (SLA) and foliar N content. Foliar N content increased with increasing SLA. All species showed a decline in midday leaf water potential as the dry season progressed. Dry season midday water potentials were lowest in semi-deciduous species and highest in the deciduous species, with evergreen species exhibiting intermediate values.
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