Islands of monsoon rainforest and Melaleuca swamp punctuate vast tracts of savanna in monsoonal northern Australia. Seedlings of species from each of these habitat associations were grown in a common garden. Monsoon forest species had higher specific leaf area, lower photosynthetic capacity and lower photosynthetic light compensation points, and required lower irradiance to achieve 50% of light-saturated photosynthesis compared with savanna or swamp species. These traits probably contribute towards greater shade tolerance beneath dense monsoon-forest canopies, whereas savanna and swamp canopies are relatively open. Swamp species, especially two Melaleuca species, had high stomatal conductance and small CO 2 drawdown during photosynthesis, and more negative leaf 13C, compared with monsoon forest and savanna species. Higher stomatal conductance increases carbon uptake during photosynthesis and a high transpiration rate would increase transport of nutrients to absorbing surfaces in the root by mass flow. Thus, a strategy of high transpiration and low water-use efficiency appears to be favoured in swamp species compared with monsoon-forest and savanna species. Instantaneous measurements of the ratio of intercellular to ambient CO 2 concentrations (c i/c a) explained 81% of variation in leaf 13C across 44 species sampled in this and other studies, suggesting that leaf 13C generally provides a robust proxy for comparisons of c i/c a, even when applied across species. � 2010 CSIRO.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Functional Plant Biology|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|