Leaf gas exchange in different tree speces of a Venezuelan cloud forest

Published in Biotropica

Rada F, Garcia-Nuñez c, Ataroff M

Publication year 2009
DOI https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-7429.2009.00537.x
IAI Program


IAI Project CRN040


Tropical cloud forests are considered humid ecosystems with frequent cloud cover down to the ground surface. However, seasonal variation in precipitation may induce short-term water stress. For canopy leaves, this water stress may also be a consequence of large atmospheric vapor pressure deficits. The objective of this work was to study five canopy cloud forest species to determine if there are restrictions to leaf gas exchange as a consequence of seasonality in precipitation and to daily water deficit due to air evaporative demand mainly during maximum incoming radiation hours. Seasonal daily courses of microclimatic variables (air temperature, relative humidity, photosynthetic photon flux density) and plant responses (leaf water potential, stomatal conductance, CO2 assimilation rates, leaf nitrogen concentration) were measured at 2400 m asl in Monterrey, an intermontane valley of the Venezuelan Andes. A gradient in terms of responses to water stress conditions was observed between the species, with Clusia multiflora (a 46% reduction in stomatal conductance between seasons) as the most affected and Miconia resimoides (increased stomatal conductance) responding more favorably to slight water stress conditions. If we consider the limitations of water stress and/or light conditions on CO2 assimilation we may arrange the species into those in which water stress conditions have a greater impact on leaf carbon gain, those where light conditions are determinant and one in which both water stress and light conditions may affect leaf carbon assimilation.