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Toward Synthesis of Relationships among Leaf Longevity, Instantaneous Photosynthetic Rate, Lifetime Leaf Carbon Gain, and the Gross Primary Production of Forests

Kihachiro Kikuzawa and Martin J. Lechowicz
The American Naturalist
Vol. 168, No. 3 (September 2006), pp. 373-383
DOI: 10.1086/506954
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/506954
Page Count: 11
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Toward Synthesis of Relationships among Leaf Longevity, Instantaneous Photosynthetic Rate, Lifetime Leaf Carbon Gain, and the Gross Primary Production of Forests
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Abstract

Abstract: The assimilation of carbon by plant communities (gross primary production [GPP]) is a central concern in plant ecology as well as for our understanding of global climate change. As an alternative to traditional methods involving destructive harvests or time‐consuming measurements, we present a simple, general model for GPP as the product of the lifetime carbon gain by a single leaf, the daily leaf production rate, and the length of the favorable period for photosynthesis. To test the model, we estimated leaf lifetime carbon gain for 26 species using the concept of mean labor time for leaves (the part of each day the leaf functions to full capacity), average potential photosynthetic capacity over the leaf lifetime, and functional leaf longevity (leaf longevity discounted for periods within a year wholly unfavorable for photosynthesis). We found that the lifetime carbon gain of leaves was rather constant across species. Moreover, when foliar biomass was regressed against functional leaf longevity, aseasonal and seasonal forests fell on a single line, suggesting that the leaf production rate during favorable periods is not substantially different among forests in the world. The gross production of forest ecosystems then can be predicted to a first approximation simply by the annual duration of the period favorable for photosynthetic activity in any given region.

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