Question: How do stand age and environmental factors affect the species-specific photosynthesis of ground vegetation?
Location: Five different aged pine forests in Southern Finland.
Methods: We measured photosynthesis of common species of ground vegetation during the growing season of 2006.
Results: The measured vascular species, especially those with annual leaves, had a clear seasonal cycle in their measured photosynthetic activity (Pmaxi). A simple model that uses site-specific temperature history, soil moisture and recent frost as input data was able to predict the changes in photosynthetic activity in dwarf shrubs with perennial leaves. The Pmaxi values of mosses did not have a clear seasonal cycle, but low values occurred after rain-free periods and high values after precipitation. We modified the model for mosses and included temporary rain events. The model was able to predict most of the large changes in Pmaxi of mosses resulting from varying weather events but there was still some uncertainty, which was probably due to difficulties in measuring fluxes over a moss population.
Conclusions: Temperature history, recent frosts and soil moisture determine the changes in Pmaxi of dwarf shrubs with perennial leaves. The Pmaxi of mosses depends mostly on recent precipitation.