• Artemisia tridentata;
  • chlorophyll fluorescence;
  • Erigeron speciosus;
  • gas exchange;
  • global warming;
  • leaf temperature;
  • microclimate;
  • photoinhibition;
  • soil moisture;
  • transpiration;
  • water potential


1. Microclimate was measured and photosynthetic responses to a climate warming manipulation were compared for the evergreen shrub Artemisia tridentata and the herbaceous forb Erigeron speciosus in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, USA.

2. Soil was warmer and drier under infra-red heaters compared with control plots.

3. Midday xylem pressure potential did not differ for A. tridentata on heated vs control plots but was lower for E. speciosus on heated plots compared with controls. Leaf temperatures did not vary for the two species on heated or control plots.

4. There were no significant treatment or species differences in the diurnal patterns of CO2 assimilation or stomatal conductance to water vapour. Also, there were no differences in responses to leaf temperature.

5. The quantum yield for CO2 assimilation over a range of PPFD was lower for plants on heated plots. There was a marked difference between species in the pattern of stomatal conductance to water vapour over a range of PPFD, but no differences as a result of the heating treatment.

6. The quantum efficiency of PSII electron transport was significantly affected by heating. Non-radiative energy dissipation was greater for A. tridentata compared with E. speciosus. There was recovery of FV/FM for A. tridentata but not for E. speciosus.

7. Heating appears to affect plants via changes in soil water content rather than by increasing leaf temperature. The deciduous species E. speciosus appears to undergo some permanent closure of PSII on heated plots, in contrast to the evergreen shrub A. tridentata. Such differences may help explain the increase in above-ground biomass accumulation in response to heating for shrubs, compared with the decrease observed for deciduous herbaceous species.