ISSN 10674136, Russian Journal of Ecology, 2011, Vol. 42, No. 6, pp. 471–479. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2011.
Succession is a process of continuous colonization
and extinction on a particular site, by populations of
species; it is driven by environmental change and plant
characteristics. The ecophysiology (physiological
ecology) of plant succession was initially described by
Bazzaz in 1979. In recent decades, the concept has
aroused great interest around the world (Bazzaz and
Pickett, 1980; StraussDebenedetti and Bazzaz, 1991;
Llambl et al., 2003; Mengarda et al., 2009), particu
larly as it can be applied to ecosystem restoration
(Prach and Pysek, 2001; Walker and del Moral, 2008).
The ecophysiology of plant succession has been
studied by many researchers. Most have focused on
photosynthesis because of its direct relationship with
plant survival and growth (Walker and Chapin III,
1986; Ellsworth and Reich, 1996). Results generally
reveal a clear decline for photosynthesis among domi
nant species during succession (Bazzaz, 1979; Llambl
et al., 2003; Wu et al., 2008a). Species in open, early
successional habitats show higher plasticity than spe
cies in closed, later successional ones (Bazzaz, 1979;
Wu et al., 2008a). But few studies pay attention to sea
sonal variation in photosynthesis relative to environ
mental factors; such research would aid our under
The article is published in the original.
standing of species replacement in nature (Bazzaz and
Pickett, 1980), and the abiotic and biotic drivers of
plant succession (Imbert and Houle, 2000; Mengarda
et al., 2009).
The Hangzhou Bay coastal wetlands form the
intersection between northern and southern coastal
wetlands in China. They have high value for scientific
research (Nakata et al., 2005). These wetlands main
tain ecological balance by safeguarding against ero
sion, reducing wave action, and encouraging sediment
deposition. However, reclamation of tidal land for
aquiculture and plantations, has prevailed in recent
decades, driven by economic benefits. Thus, coastal
wetland ecosystems have been either destroyed or
severely degraded (Chen et al., 2002; Li et al., 2009).
In the last few years, studies have been conducted in
the Hangzhou Bay wetlands to detail the characteris
tics of community structure (Wu, 2008b) and environ
mental conditions (Yan, 2007; Wu, 2009), and to
quantify succession in terms of ecophysiological pro
cess (Wu, 2008a, 2010). Based on field studies, a suc
cession pathway has been identified, from annual and
perennial herbaceous plants (
), to herbaceous and woody plant
Phragmites communis, Salix matsudana,
Tamarix chinensis, Imperata cylindrica
) (Wu, 2008b).
In this paper, the photosynthetic activity of dominant
species was determined, along with the ambient envi
Seasonal Variation in Photosynthesis in Relation to Differing
Environmental Factors of Dominant Plant Species in Three
Successional Communities in Hangzhou Bay Wetlands, East China*
Tonggui Wu, Mukui Yu, Ming Wu, and Jianghua Xiao
Research Institute of Subtropical Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, 73 Daqiao Road Fuyang Zhejiang 311400, P.R. China
email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Hangzhoubay@126.com
Received September 14, 2010
—We investigated the ecophysiology (physiological ecology) of plant succession within a coastal
wetland community. The photosynthetic characteristics of six plants were studied;
in early successional communities,
in mid suc
cessional communities, and
in later successional communities.
Environmental factors were concurrently determined for each community. Relationships between photosyn
thetic and environmental factors were analyzed by path analysis, and the dependence of photosynthesis on
particular environmental factors was shown to vary between plants in the differing successional communities.
Ability to cope with irradiation appears to be one of the most important factors influencing plant succession.
The increasing stratification of plant communities following colonization of new coastal land necessitates dif
fering physiological strategies and photosynthetic dynamics in the later colonizing plants.
: photosynthesis, successional communities, environmental factors, seasonal variation, path anal
ysis, Hangzhou Bay wetlands.