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Interplay of seasonal sunlight, air and leaf temperature in two alpine páramo species, Colombian Andes

Sanchez, Adriana, Rey-Sánchez, A. Camilo, Posada, Juan M., Smith, William K.
Agricultural and forest meteorology 2018 v.253-254 pp. 38-47
Chusquea, air, alpine plants, canopy, carbon, climate change, dry season, ecosystems, energy balance, equations, gas exchange, leaves, models, photosynthesis, solar radiation, structural equation modeling, temperature, Andes region, Colombia
In models of photosynthetic gas exchange, leaf temperature (Tₗₑₐf) is often calculated using a combination of derivations of the energy balance equation and measurements of air temperature (Tₐᵢᵣ). Yet, there are frequently large differences between Tₗₑₐf and Tₐᵢᵣ under natural field conditions, and an energy balance is complicated in complex canopies, especially in tropical ecosystems. In the present study, we aimed to quantify the variation in Tₗₑₐf relative to Tₐᵢᵣ under naturally varying PPFD values in two representative species (Espeletia grandiflora and Chusquea tessellata) of a tropical alpine ecosystem (páramo, Colombian Andes) during both wet and dry seasons. The results of a Structural Equation Model showed that Tₗₑₐf was strongly correlated with changes in Tₐᵢᵣ during both seasons, but large differences (up to 14 °C) occurred between Tₐᵢᵣ and Tₗₑₐf, during the dry season when PPFD varied the most, especially in C. tessellata. Thus, using Tₐᵢᵣ to proximate Tₗₑₐf under variable conditions of incident sunlight could generate substantial errors in estimates of temperature-sensitive physiological processes. These results should be valuable for evaluating the accuracy of carbon and water exchange models within current and future scenarios of climate change in tropical páramos, as well as other ecosystems.