Performance of two Picea abies (L.) Karst. stands at different stages of decline : II. Photosynthesis and leaf conductance.
CO2 assimilation rate (A) and leaf conductance (g) were measured in the field on intact branches of 35-year-old Picea abies (L.) Karst. trees, in five plots each in a healthy and a declining stand. The declining site included trees with yellow needles. In order to separate atmospheric effects on gas exchange from effects of nutrient deficiency, direct effects of atmospheric pollutants were studied on green needles of different age classes in plots of trees at different stages of visible decline. The effects of nutrient deficiency on gas exchange were studied on a different group of trees showing needles of various degrees of yellowing. CO2 assimilation of green needles at the same leaf conductance fell somewhat only when needles had reached 5 years of age, the oldest age examined in this study. Leaf conductance decreased with increasing needle age, but green needles in the declining stand had leaf conductances similar to those of needles in the healthy stand. Stomata of needles with different magnesium concentrations responded to light and air humidity in all age classes. Thus, as long as needles were green, no dese effect was detectable up to 5 years of exposure to atmospheric emissions. Since all needles, green and yellow, were exposed to the same pollution levels, differences in gas exchange between green and yellow needles could not be explained simply in terms of long-term direct effects of air pollution. Needle magnesium contents were correlated with needle yellowing. Neither needle color change nor the magnesium concentration were related to g, but CO2 uptake at ambient CO2 levels declined with lower magnesium concentration and greater degrees of needle yellowing.
Zimmermann, R; Oren, R; Schulze, E-D; Werk, KS
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