The effect of interspecific variation in photosynthetic plasticity on 4-year growth rate and 8-year survival of understorey tree seedlings in response to gap formations in a cool-temperate deciduous forest

Riichi Oguchi, Tsutom Hiura, Kouki Hikosaka

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Gap formation increases the light intensity in the forest understorey. The growth responses of seedlings to the increase in light availability show interspecific variation, which is considered to promote biodiversity in forests. At the leaf level, some species increase their photosynthetic capacity in response to gap formation, whereas others do not. Here we address the question of whether the interspecific difference in the photosynthetic response results in the interspecific variation in the growth response. If so, the interspecific difference in photosynthetic response would also contribute to species coexistence in forests. We also address the further relevant question of why some species do not increase their photosynthetic capacity. We assumed that some cost of photosynthetic plasticity may constrain acquisition of the plasticity in some species, and hypothesized that species with larger photosynthetic plasticity exhibit better growth after gap formation and lower survivorship in the shade understorey of a cool-temperate deciduous forest. We created gaps by felling canopy trees and studied the relationship between the photosynthetic response and the subsequent growth rate of seedlings. Naturally growing seedlings of six deciduous woody species were used and their mortality was examined for 8 years. The lightsaturated rate of photosynthesis (Pmax) and the relative growth rate (RGR) of the seedlings of all study species increased at gap plots. The extent of these increases varied among the species. The stimulation of RGR over 4 years after gap formation was strongly correlated with change in photosynthetic capacity of newly expanded leaves. The increase in RGR and Pmax correlated with the 8-year mortality at control plots. These results suggest a trade-off between photosynthetic plasticity and the understorey shade tolerance. Gap-demanding species may acquire photosynthetic plasticity, sacrificing shade tolerances, whereas gap-independent species may acquire shade tolerances, sacrificing photosynthetic plasticity. This strategic difference among species would contribute to species coexistence in cool-temperate deciduous forests.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1113-1127
    Number of pages15
    JournalTree Physiology
    Volume37
    Issue number8
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2017 Aug 1

    Keywords

    • Acclimation
    • Acer japonicum
    • Acer mono
    • Cost of plasticity
    • Forest regeneration
    • Fraxinus lanuginosa
    • Kalopanax pictus
    • Magnolia obovata
    • Phenotypic plasticity
    • Photosynthetic capacity
    • Quercus crispula
    • Species coexistence

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Physiology
    • Plant Science

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