Photosynthesis, carbohydrate storage and survival of a native and an introduced tree species in relation to light and defoliation

S. M. Gleason, A. Ares*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    57 Citations (Scopus)


    Fraxinus uhdei (Wenz.) Lingelsh (tropical ash), a species introduced to Hawaii from Mexico, invades forests of the endemic tree Acacia koa A.Gray (koa). We examined physiological and morphological characteristics of koa and tropical ash to explore possible mechanisms that may facilitate invasion of koa forests by tropical ash. Seedlings of both species were grown in a greenhouse in three light treatments: 100% photosynthetic photon flux (PPF); 18% PPF; and 2% PPF inside the greenhouse. Light compensation point, maximum CO2 assimilation rate and dark respiration rate of seedlings differed significantly among light treatments, but were similar between species. A defoliation experiment indicated that tropical ash was better able to survive defoliation than koa, especially under high-light conditions. Tropical ash seedlings allocated more carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) to storage per unit PPF than koa seedlings. Total nonstructural carbohydrates were positively correlated with plant survival in both species. The patterns of C and N allocation associated with tropical ash seedlings favor their survival in high light, under intense herbivory and on sites where N availability is seasonal or highly variable. Variation in carbohydrate storage between koa and tropical ash greatly exceeded variation in photosynthetic performance at the leaf level.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1087-1097
    Number of pages11
    JournalTree physiology
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004


    • Hawaii
    • Invasive species
    • Nitrogen-use efficiency
    • Nonstructural carbohydrates


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