Photosynthetic Characteristics of Crested Wheatgrass and Bluebunch Wheatgrass

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Journal of Range Management

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Light and temperature dependencies for net photosynthesis and stomatal conductance were generally very similar between foliage on crested wheatgrass plants and that on bluebunch wheatgrass plants. The similarity of these gas exchange characteristics between the 2 bunchgrass species was true for foliage on unclipped plants as well as on partially defoliated plants. However, light and temperature dependencies for senescing leaf blades that were exserted in late-spring were significantly different for unclipped plants of these 2 species. Photosynthetic rates and stomatal conductance of senescent late-season blades on bluebunch wheatgrass plants were greater than those on creasted wheatgrass plants at light intensities greater than 0.8 mmol photons m-2 s-1 and at all foliage temperatures between 18 degrees C and 41 degrees C. These greater photosynthetic rates and stomatal conductance do not mean that bluebunch wheatgreass tillers gained substantially more carbon or lost substantially more water than created wheatgreass tillers. If both the photosynthetic area composition of tillers and the environmental conditions of the northern Utah study site were considered, carbon gain and water loss for individual bluebunch wheatgreass tillers would be very similar to those for individual created wheatgreasa tillers despite the significantly different responses to light and temperature during mid-summer.

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