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 September 21, 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 September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) — Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
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