Leaf traits and photosynthetic parameters of saplings and adult trees of co-existing species in a temperate broad-leaved forest

2005 | journal article

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​Leaf traits and photosynthetic parameters of saplings and adult trees of co-existing species in a temperate broad-leaved forest​
Hölscher, D. ​ (2005) 
Basic and Applied Ecology5(2) pp. 163​-172​.​ DOI: https://doi.org/10.1078/1439-1791-00218 

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Hölscher, Dirk 
In Central European forestry the establishment of broad-leaved mixed forests is attaining increasing importance, but little information exists about gas exchange characteristics of some of the tree species involved, which are less abundant today. In an old-growth forest in Central Germany (Hainich, Thuringia), (i) I compared morphological and chemical leaf traits that are indicative of leaf gas exchange characteristics among eight co-existing species, and (ii) analysed photosynthetic parameters of saplings and adult trees (lower and upper canopy level) in four of these species (Acer pseudoplatanus L., Carpinus betulus L., Fraxinus excelsior L. and Tilia platyphyllos Scop.). Leaves from the upper canopy in the eight species studied varied significantly in their specific leaf area (12.9–19.4 m2 kg−1), stomatal density (125–313 stomata mm−2), leaf nitrogen concentration (95–157 mmol N m−2) and δ13C content (–27.81 to –25.85‰). F. excelsior and C. betulus were largely contrasting species, which suggests that the species, which were studied in more detail, include the widest difference in leaf gas exchange among the co-existing species. The saplings of the four selected species exhibited shade acclimated leaves with net photosynthesis rates at saturating irradiance (Amax) between 5.0 and 6.4 μmol m−2 s−1. In adult trees Amax of fully sunlit leaves was more variable and ranged from 10.5 (C. betulus) to 16.3 μmol m−2 s−1 (F. excelsior). However, less negative δ13C values in F. excelsior sun leaves point to a strong limitation in gas exchange. In the lower canopy of adult trees Amax of F. excelsior (12.0 μmol m−2 s−1) was also greater than that of A. pseudoplatanus, C. betulus and T. platyphyllos (5.0–5.6 μmol m−2 s−1). This can be explained by the small leaf area and the absence of shade leaves in mature F. excelsior trees. Thus, a considerable variation in leaf traits and gas exchange was found among the co-existing tree species. The results suggest that species-specific characteristics increase the spatial heterogeneity of canopy gas exchange and should be taken into account in the interpretation and prediction of gas flux from mixed stands.
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Basic and Applied Ecology 
Abteilung Waldbau und Waldökologie der Tropen ; Fakultät für Forstwissenschaften und Waldökologie ; Burckhardt-Institut ; Abteilung Waldbau und Waldökologie der Tropen 



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