Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Trees adapt to poor levels of sunlight to effectively process carbon, study shows

Date:
November 17, 2011
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
In Europe, forests appear evergreen even in the cloudiest conditions, while the lush interiors of Asian jungles are typically overshadowed by a dense canopy. The ability of trees to adapt to light conditions, and even increase their intake of carbon for photosynthesis in poor light, has been explored by Czech researchers.

In Europe, forests appear evergreen even in the cloudiest conditions, while the lush interiors of Asian jungles are typically overshadowed by a dense canopy. The ability of trees to adapt to light conditions, and even increase their intake of carbon for photosynthesis in poor light, has been explored by Czech researchers and published in the British Ecological Society's Functional Ecology.

The research centers around the impact of cloud cover on photosynthesis, the process through which plants and trees take in carbon and utilise the solar energy to produce oxygen, a process which is dependent on sunlight. The sun's energy reaches Earth's surface directly, or it can be diffused through the atmosphere by factors including cloud cover.

"Cloud cover has a direct impact on ecosystems by influencing temperature and light, so the conditions of the sky are just as important to photosynthesis as sunlight itself," said lead author Dr Otmar Urban, from the Global Change Research Centre in Brno, Czech Republic. "Surprisingly however studies show that an increase in cloud cover and the resulting diffusion of light can actually enhance the photosynthesis of forest canopies, but the mechanism behind this has remained unknown."

The idea that greater cloud cover can increase an ecosystem's exchange of carbon through photosynthesis may appear counterintuitive, but Dr Urban's team believe the process is due to the even distribution of light among leaves throughout the many levels of a forest canopy.

To test the theory the team analysed the net carbon intake of a spruce forest in the Beskydy Mountains of the Czech Republic under both cloudy and sunny skies. This was coupled with a study of the leaf chlorophyll within different sections of the canopy to gauge the resulting levels of photosynthesis.

The results showed that the higher diffusion of sunlight during cloudy days did result in a higher uptake of carbon across the ecosystem when compared to the same levels of light on sunny days.

Analysis of tree shoots also revealed that shoots from deep within the canopy contributed substantially to the overall carbon balance of the forest during cloudy days. However the contribution of middle or shaded parts of the canopy was marginal, or even negative, on sunny days. Shoots at the top of the canopy contributed 78% of the total carbon intake during a sunny day, but only 43% during a cloudy day when light was more evenly distributed.

"This research shows that diffuse light, caused by cloud cover, has an important impact on the productivity of vegetation," concluded Urban. "The ability of forests to not only adapt to the levels of light they regularly receive, but make effective use of those conditions, helps us to understand how individual trees can maintain such a high intake of carbon despite being overshadowed by the tops of the canopy."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Otmar Urban, Karel Klem, Alexander Ač, Kateřina Havránková, Petra Holišová, Martin Navrátil, Martina Zitová, Klára Kozlová, Radek Pokorný, Mirka Šprtová, Ivana Tomášková, Vladimír Špunda, John Grace. Impact of clear and cloudy sky conditions on the vertical distribution of photosynthetic CO2 uptake within a spruce canopy. Functional Ecology, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2435.2011.01934.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Trees adapt to poor levels of sunlight to effectively process carbon, study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111115073941.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2011, November 17). Trees adapt to poor levels of sunlight to effectively process carbon, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111115073941.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Trees adapt to poor levels of sunlight to effectively process carbon, study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111115073941.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) — New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) — A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

AFP (July 19, 2014) — A spectaCular lightning storm struck the UK overnight Friday. Images of lightning strikes over the Shard and Tower Bridge in central London. Duration: 00:23 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) — As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins