Factors influencing carbon fixation and water use by mediterranean sclerophyll shrubs during summer drought


Journal Article

Mediterranean sclerophyll shrubs respond to seasonal drought by adjusting the amount of leaf area exposed and by reducing gas exchange via stomatal closure mechanisms. The degree to which each of these modifications can influence plant carbon and water balances under typical mediterranean-type climate conditions is examined. Leaf area changes are assessed in the context of a canopy structure and light microclimate model. Shifts in physiological response are examined with a mechanistically-based model of C3 leaf gas exchange that simulates progressive reduction of maximum photosynthesis and transpiration rates and increasingly strong midday stomatal closure over the course of drought. The results demonstrate that midday stomatal closure may effectively contribute to drought avoidance, increase water use efficiency, and strongly alter physiological efficiency in the conversion of intercepted light energy to photoproducts. Physiological adjustments lead to larger reductions in water use than occur when comparing leaf area index 3.5 to 1.5, extremes found for natural stands of sclerophyll shrubs in the California chaparral. Reductions in leaf area have the strongest effect on resource capture and use during non-water-stressed periods and the least effect under extreme drought conditions, while shifts in physiological response lead to large savings of water and efficient water use under extreme stress. An important model parameter termed GFAC (proportionality factor expressing the relation of conductance [g] to net photosynthesis rate) is utilized, which changes in response to the integrated water stress experimence of shrubs and alters the degree to which stomata may open for a given rate of carbon fixation. We attempt to interpret this parameter in terms of physiological mechanisms known to modify control of leaf gas exchange during drought. The analysis helps visualize means by which canopy gas exchange behavior may be coupled to physiological changes occurring in the root environment during soil drying. © 1990 Springer-Verlag.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Tenhunen, JD; Serra, AS; Harley, PC; Dougherty, RL; Reynolds, JF

Published Date

  • March 1, 1990

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 82 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 381 - 393

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1432-1939

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0029-8549

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/BF00317487

Citation Source

  • Scopus