Photosynthetic induction responses of two rainforest tree species in relation to light environment

L. Poorter, S.F. Oberbauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Photosynthetic induction of in situ saplings of two Costa Rican rainforest tree species wre compared in relation to their light environment, using infrared gas analysis and hemispherical photography. The species studied were Dipteryx panamensis, a climax species found in bright microsites, and Cecropia obtusifolia, a pioneer species. In the morning, when leaves were most responsive, induction time necessary to reach 90% of the lightsaturated rate of photosynthesis was on average 16 min for Dipteryx and 10 min for Cecropia. However, induction times for both species increased in the afternoon resulting in shorter daily average induction times for Dipteryx than for Cecropia. Dipteryx also maintained higher levels of induction for a longer period under low light conditions than did Cecropia. The two species differed in the way they adjusted to light availability. Dipteryx saplings growing in shady sites had faster rates of induction than saplings growing in bright sites, with no difference in light-saturated photosynthetic rate. In contrast, Cecropia saplings growing in bright sites had higher light-saturated photosynthetic rates than saplings growing in shady sites, with no difference in rates of induction. Dipteryx appears to exploit temporal variation in light availability by refining the quickness of the induction response to the light environment, while Cecropia adjusts its scale of exploitation by realizing a higher lightsaturated photosynthetic rate in sites of higher light
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-199
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1993


  • neotropical rain-forest
  • ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase
  • alocasia-macrorrhiza
  • emergent trees
  • steady-state
  • plants
  • sunflecks
  • c-3


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