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Factors Controlling Transpiration and Photosynthesis in Tamarax Chinensis Lour.

Anderson, Jay E.
Ecology 1982 v.63 no.1 pp. 48-56
Tamarix chinensis, air, ambient temperature, carbon dioxide, diurnal variation, evaporative demand, gas exchange, herbaceous plants, humidity, leaves, light intensity, photosynthesis, phreatophytes, shade, solar radiation, stomata, stomatal movement, transpiration, water potential, water supply, water use efficiency, New Mexico
Photosynthetic and stomatal responses of Tamarix chinensis to temperature, light, and humidity were investigated in the field in New Mexico and in the laboratory. Transpiration rates for T. chinensis were similar to those of several herbaceous plants and co—occurring phreatophytes. Net photosynthetic rates and water use efficiency of T. chinesis were lower than for other species. Photosynthesis was light saturated at a photon flux density equal to 44% of full sunlight. Carbon dioxide assimiliation was tightly coupled to irradiance below light saturation. Leaf resistances remained low at photon flux densities above one—third of full sunlight, but increased linearly with decreasing photon flux density below that level. Shading for 5 min resulted in a doubling of leaf resistance. The rapid response of stomata to changing light conditions is probably an adaptation to conserve moisture when light is limiting to photosynthesis. Optimal leaf temperatures for photosynthesis were 23°—28° C, which correspond roughly to ambient temperatures during the early part of the day when evaporative demand was relatively low. T. chinensis stomata appeared to respond directly to changes in the leaf—to—air absolute humidity gradient. At constant temperature, leaf resistance increased linearly with increases in the leaf—air humidity gradient. Midday depressions of gas exchange invariably occurred in the field, despite the fact that the plants had an abundant water supply. These depressions resulted from increases in leaf resistance in response to increasing evaporative demand of the air. This response results in improved water use efficiency during the hottest portion of the day. Plant water potential decreased from pre—dawn values of about —0.9 MPa to minimal values of about —2.6 MPa by midmorning. Improvements in bulk water status were often observed during the afternoon when leaf resistances were higher. Diurnal patterns suggested that leaf resistance was largely a function of temperature, light, and humidity, rather than plant water status.