Photosynthesis, Xylem Pressure Potential, and Leaf Conductance of Three Montane Chaparral Species in California

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Seasonal and diurnal patterns of 14CO2 uptake, xylem pressure potential, and leaf conductance of white fir (Abies concolor), snowbrush ceanothus (Ceanothus velutinus) and greenleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos patula) were compared on a montane chaparral site in the northern Sierra Nevada of California. Responses of CO2 exchange to temperature and light levels were also investigated for white fir and snowbrush ceanothus in the laboratory. In the field, 14CO2 uptake of snowbrush ceanothus was normally 1.5 to 2 times that of white fir and greenleaf manzanita. Photosynthesis of white fir was inhibited at high xylem pressure potentials relative to the other two species as a result of stomatal closure. The shrub species responded favorably to high summer temperatures and showed minimal adverse effects of water stress at xylem pressure potentials less than - 2.0 MPa. These studies suggest that snowbrush ceanothus and greenleaf manzanita are well adapted to conditions of high foliar temperature and low soil moisture availability, while white fir is adapted better to cool, mesic conditions. Differences in species responses to environmental moisture deficits may be an important factor in the suppression of white fir sapling growth by shrub competition. Forest Sci. 27:627-639.

Keywords: Abies concolor; Arctostaphylos patula; Ceanothus velutinus; Photosynthesis; Water relations

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Associate Professor, Department of Botany, University of California, Davis CA 95616

Publication date: December 1, 1981

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