This title appears in the Scientific Report : 2012 

Functional diversity of photosynthetic light use of sixteen vascular epiphyte species under fluctuating irradiance in the canopy of a gianta Virola michelii (Myristicaceae) tree in the tropical lowland forest of French Guyana
Rascher, U.
Freiberg, M. / Lüttge, U.
Pflanzenwissenschaften; IBG-2
Frontiers in plant science: FPLS, 2 (2012) S. 1 - 12
Lausanne Frontiers Media 2012
1 - 12
Journal Article
Terrestrische Umwelt
Frontiers in Functional Plant Ecology 2
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Here we present the first study, in which a large number of different vascular epiphyte species were measured for their photosynthetic performance in the natural environment of their phorophyte in the lowland rainforest of French Guyana. More than 70 epiphyte species covered the host tree in a dense cover. Of these, the photosynthesis of 16 abundant species was analyzed intensely over several months. Moreover, the light environment was characterized with newly developed light sensors that recorded continuously and with high temporal resolution light intensity next to the epiphytes. Light intensity was highly fluctuating and showed great site specific spatio-temporal variations of photosynthetic photon flux. Using a novel computer routine we quantified the integrated light intensity the epiphytes were exposed to in a 3 h window and we related this light intensity to measurements of the actual photosynthetic status. It could be shown that the photosynthetic apparatus of the epiphytes was well adapted to the quickly changing light conditions. Some of the epiphytes were chronically photoinhibited at predawn and significant acute photoinhibition, expressed by a reduction of potential quantum efficiency (F(v)/F(m))(30'), was observed during the day. By correlating (F(v)/F(m))(30') to the integrated and weighted light intensity perceived during the previous 3 h, it became clear that acute photoinhibition was related to light environment prior to the measurements. Additionally photosynthetic performance was not determined by rain events, with the exception of an Aechmea species. This holds true for all the other 15 species of this study and we thus conclude that actual photosynthesis of these tropical epiphytes was determined by the specific and fluctuating light conditions of their microhabitat and cannot be simply attributed to light-adapted ancestors.