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:2016-08-10 Published:2016-08-23
  • 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