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Community-wide consequences of variation in photoprotective physiology among prairie plants
- Kothari, S., Cavender-Bares, J., Bitan, K., Verhoeven, A. S., Wang, R., Montgomery, R. A., Gamon, J. A.
- Photosynthetica 2018 v.56 no.1 pp. 455-467
- absorbance, canopy, ecosystems, energy, lutein, photochemistry, photosynthesis, phylogeny, reflectance, streams, Minnesota
- Photoprotective pigments, like those involved in the xanthophyll cycle, help plants avoid oxidative damage caused by excess radiation. This study aims to characterize a spectrum of strategies used to cope with light stress by a diverse group of prairie plants at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve (East Bethel, MN). We find that concentrations of photosynthetic and photoprotective pigments are highly correlated with one another and with other physiological traits across species and over time, and tend to be phylogenetically conserved. During a period of water limitation, plots dominated by species with constitutively low pigment concentrations showed a greater decline in mean reflectance and photochemical reflectance index, a reflectance-based indicator of photoprotective physiology, possibly due to alterations in canopy structure. Our findings suggest two contrasting strategies for withstanding light stress: (1) Using photoprotective pigments to dissipate excess energy, and (2) altering canopy structure to minimize absorbance of excess radiation.