Determining the spatial and temporal diversity of photosynthetic processes in forest canopies presents a challenge to the evaluation of biological feedbacks needed for improvement of carbon and climate models. Limited access with portable instrumentation, especially in the outer canopy, makes remote sensing of these processes a priority in experimental ecosystem and climate change research. Here, we describe the application of a new, active, chlorophyll fluorescence measurement system for remote sensing of light use efficiency, based on analysis of laser-induced fluorescence transients (LIFT). We used mature stands of Populus grown at ambient (380 ppm) and elevated CO2 (1220 ppm) in the enclosed agriforests of the Biosphere 2 Laboratory (B2L) to compare parameters of photosynthetic efficiency, photosynthetic electron transport, and dissipation of excess light measured by LIFT and by standard on-the-leaf saturating flash methods using a commercially available pulse-modulated chlorophyll fluorescence instrument (Mini-PAM). We also used LIFT to observe the diel courses of these parameters in leaves of two tropical forest dominants, Inga and Pterocarpus, growing in the enclosed model tropical forest of B2L. Midcanopy leaves of both trees showed the expected relationships among chlorophyll fluorescence-derived photosynthetic parameters in response to sun exposure, but, unusually, both displayed an afternoon increase in nonphotochemical quenching in the shade, which was ascribed to reversible inhibition of photosynthesis at high leaf temperatures in the enclosed canopy. Inga generally showed higher rates of photosynthetic electron transport, but greater afternoon reduction in photosynthetic efficiency. The potential for estimation of the contribution of outer canopy photosynthesis to forest CO2 assimilation, and assessment of its response to environmental stress using remote sensing devices such as LIFT, is briefly discussed.
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