Canopy position affects the relationships between leaf respiration and associated traits in a tropical rainforest in Far North Queensland

Weerasinghe, Lasantha K., Creek, Danielle, Crous, Kristine Y., Xiang, Shuang, Liddell, Michael J., Turnbull, Matthew H., and Atkin, Owen K. (2014) Canopy position affects the relationships between leaf respiration and associated traits in a tropical rainforest in Far North Queensland. Tree Physiology, 34 (6). pp. 564-584.

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Abstract

We explored the impact of canopy position on leaf respiration (R) and associated traits in tree and shrub species growing in a lowland tropical rainforest in Far North Queensland, Australia. The range of traits quantified included: leaf R in darkness (RD) and in the light (RL; estimated using the Kok method); the temperature (T)-sensitivity of RD; light-saturated photosynthesis (Asat); leaf dry mass per unit area (LMA); and concentrations of leaf nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), soluble sugars and starch. We found that LMA, and area-based N, P, sugars and starch concentrations were all higher in sun-exposed/upper canopy leaves, compared with their shaded/lower canopy and deep-shade/understory counterparts; similarly, area-based rates of RD, RL and Asat (at 28 °C) were all higher in the upper canopy leaves, indicating higher metabolic capacity in the upper canopy. The extent to which light inhibited R did not differ significantly between upper and lower canopy leaves, with the overall average inhibition being 32% across both canopy levels. Log–log RD–Asat relationships differed between upper and lower canopy leaves, with upper canopy leaves exhibiting higher rates of RD for a given Asat (both on an area and mass basis), as well as higher mass-based rates of RD for a given [N] and [P]. Over the 25–45 °C range, the T-sensitivity of RD was similar in upper and lower canopy leaves, with both canopy positions exhibiting Q10 values near 2.0 (i.e., doubling for every 10 °C rise in T) and Tmax values near 60 °C (i.e., T where RD reached maximal values). Thus, while rates of RD at 28 °C decreased with increasing depth in the canopy, the T-dependence of RD remained constant; these findings have important implications for vegetation-climate models that seek to predict carbon fluxes between tropical lowland rainforests and the atmosphere.

Item ID: 35012
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: functional traits, light, photosynthesis, Q10, temperature
ISSN: 1758-4469
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), James Cook University (JCU), Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN)
Projects and Grants: ARC FT0991448, ARC DP0986823, JCU Australian Canopy Crane Student Grant
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2014 05:08
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0607 Plant Biology > 060705 Plant Physiology @ 80%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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