Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2016, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (8): 810-826.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2015.0445

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Water relations and photosynthetic characteristics in different functional groups of epiphytic lichens in montane forest of Ailaoshan

Tao HU1,2, Su LI1, Shuai LIU1,2, Wen-Yao LIU1,*, Xi CHEN1,2, Liang SONG1, Quan CHEN1,2   

  1. 1Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650223, China

    2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Online:2016-08-23 Published:2016-08-10
  • Contact: Wen-Yao LIU


Aims There are abundant epiphytic lichens in the tropical and subtropical montane forest ecosystems, which are important components of forest canopy and play a vital role in biodiversity conservation, environmental monitoring and nutrient cycling. In accordance with photobiont type, growth form and reproductive strategy, the epiphytic lichens can be divided into different functional groups, with different distribution patterns. In this study we aim to explain this phenomenon from the perspective of physiological ecology. Methods The maximum water content, water loss curves, photosynthetic water and light response curves were determined in four epiphytic lichen functional groups, including cyanolichens, fruticose lichens, broadly lobed foliose lichens and narrowly lobed foliose lichens. Important findings The functional characteristics of epiphytic lichens influence their maximum water-holding capacity and rate of water loss. The cyanolichens have higher maximum water content, while the fruticose lichens have a faster water loss. The cyanolichens that are widely distributed in the moist habitats require particularly high moisture for their photosynthetic activities; their optimal water content for photosynthesis is higher in comparison with other groups. They also have a low light compensation point and a high light saturation point, which explain the wide range of light intensity of the habitat. The fruticose lichens, widely distributed in the relatively arid habitats with high irradiance, have high light compensation point and light saturation point, and low optimum water content for photosynthesis. The broadly lobed foliose lichens and the narrowly lobed foliose lichens have a high light compensation point and light saturation point; they preferably occur in habitats with strong light.

Key words: epiphytic lichen, functional groups, water relation, photosynthesis, poikilohydry

Table 1

Classification of functional groups of epiphytic lichens"

功能群 Functional group 简称 Abbreviation 功能群特征 Functional traits
蓝藻地衣 Cyanolichens CYL 共生藻为蓝藻或包含蓝藻 With cyanobacteria
枝状地衣 Fruticose lichens FRL 枝状或灌丛状, 共生藻为绿藻 Fruticose, with green algae
阔叶地衣 Broadly lobed foliose lichens BFL 大型阔叶状, 共生藻为绿藻 Broadly lobed foliose, with green algae
狭叶地衣 Narrowly lobed foliose lichens NFL 小型或中型细叶状, 共生藻为绿藻 Narrowly lobed foliose, with green algae

Table 2

Water-holding and rate of water loss in different epiphytic lichens (mean ± SE)"

Water-holding capacity per dry mass (n = 10)
Maximum water content (% dry mass)
皮革肾岛衣 Nephromopsis pallescens 3.01 ± 0.09cd 308.8 0.59 1.77 3.78
针芽肺衣 Lobaria isidiophora 2.84 ± 0.16d 315.1 0.61 1.83 3.86
网肺衣 Lobaria retigera 3.76 ± 0.20bcd 373.1 0.63 1.87 3.82
猫耳衣 Leptogium menziesii 10.49 ± 0.49a 1 104.1 1.03 2.94 5.64
云南袋衣 Hypogymnia yunnanensis 5.01 ± 0.30abc 473.6 0.56 1.69 3.69
白绵腹衣 Anzia leucobatoides 5.70 ± 0.19ab 514.2 1.83 4.85 8.28
多花松萝 Usnea florida 3.22 ± 0.09cd 193.6 0.4 1.26 3.14
裂髓树花 Ramalina conduplicans 6.07 ± 0.18ab 449.2 0.48 1.48 3.41

Fig. 1

Relationship between water-holding capacity (WHC) and dry mass in different epiphytic lichens (n = 10)."

Fig. 2

Water release curves for different epiphytic lichens. A, Nephromopsis pallescens. B, Lobaria isidiophora. C, Lobaria retigera. D, Leptogium menziesii. E, Hypogymnia yunnanensis. F, Anzia leucobatoides. G, Usnea florida. H, Ramalina conduplicans. WC in graphs refers to water content. Different shapes of symbols represent different samples (n = 3-5)."

Fig. 3

Water content in different epiphytic lichens at different times during water loss. Hydration (%) refers to the percentage of maximum water content."

Fig. 4

Photosynthetic water response curves for different epiphytic lichens. A, Nephromopsis pallescens. B, Lobaria isidiophora. C, Lobaria retigera. D, Leptogium menziesii. E, Hypogymnia yunnanensis. F, Anzia leucobatoides. G, Usnea florida. H, Ramalina conduplicans. Pn and WC in graphs refer to net photosynthesis rate and water content, respectively. Different shapes of symbols represent different samples (n = 4, 5)."

Fig. 5

The relationship between optimal water content and maximum water content (A), the relationship between water compensation point and optimal water content (B), and the relationship between photosynthesis and water content in different epiphytic lichens (C). Photosynthesis is expressed as the percentage of max net photosynthesis."

Table 3

Optimal water content, water compensation point, and initial slope of water content-dependent net photosynthesis in different epiphytic lichens"

Optimal water content (% dry mass)
Water compensation point (% dry mass)
Initial slope
皮革肾岛衣 Nephromopsis pallescens 232.6 24.2 0.75
针芽肺衣 Lobaria isidiophora 119.0 16.0 2.11
网肺衣 Lobaria retigera 172.9 44.4 1.11
猫耳衣 Leptogium menziesii 419.5 16.3 0.50
云南袋衣 Hypogymnia yunnanensis 175.0 22.3 0.98
白绵腹衣 Anzia leucobatoides 298.9 19.7 0.64
多花松萝 Usnea florida 93.0 27.0 2.59
裂髓树花 Ramalina conduplicans 139.4 33.7 1.92

Fig. 6

Photosynthetic light response curves for different epiphytic lichens. A, Nephromopsis pallescens. B, Lobaria isidiophora. C, Lobaria retigera. D, Leptogium menziesii. E, Hypogymnia yunnanensis. F, Anzia leucobatoides. G, Usnea florida. H, Ramalina conduplicans. Pn and I in graphs refer to net photosynthesis and light intensity, respectively. Different shapes of symbols represent different samples (n = 4, 5)."

Table 4

Parameters of light response curves for different epiphytic lichens (mean ± SE, n = 5)"

光补偿点 LCP
光饱和点 LSP
最大净光合速率 Pnmax
暗呼吸速率 Rd
皮革肾岛衣 Nephromopsis pallescens 46.6 ± 2.3a 407.5 ± 14.6b 0.88 ± 0.03e 0.66 ± 0.04ab
针芽肺衣 Lobaria isidiophora 43.4 ± 2.6ab 466.4 ± 22.7b 1.77 ± 0.06c 0.83 ± 0.03a
网肺衣 Lobaria retigera 20.3 ± 2.2c 416.3 ± 25.4b 2.85 ± 0.05a 0.63 ± 0.03ab
猫耳衣 Leptogium menziesii 23.2 ± 0.3c 322.4 ± 25.4b 1.61 ± 0.02c 0.60 ± 0.02ab
云南袋衣 Hypogymnia yunnanensis 41.1 ± 3.7ab 410.7 ± 40.6b 1.72 ± 0.05c 0.94 ± 0.16a
白绵腹衣 Anzia leucobatoides 36.0 ± 2.1b 441.7 ± 37.6b 2.17 ± 0.07b 0.90 ± 0.04a
多花松萝 Usnea florida 35.5 ± 2.2b 610.9 ± 54.3a 1.29 ± 0.07d 0.37 ± 0.01b
裂髓树花 Ramalina conduplicans 38.6 ± 2.3ab 613.4 ± 42.3a 2.10 ± 0.08b 0.95 ± 0.03a
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