The objectives of the study were to characterize photosynthesis of temperate fallow C3 herbaceous species and examine the performance of a simple photosynthesis model (based on the Farquhar's equations) to simulate carbon fluxes at the leaf and canopy levels. The maximum rate of carboxylation at 25°C (Vm0) was estimated for sunlit leaves using in situ gas exchange data under saturating irradiance. Throughout the seasons, leaf measurements indicate that values of Vm0 were similar for the four major species of the fallow. The rate declined from March (100 μmol m-2 s-1) to July (50 μmol m-2 s-1) and remained almost constant until November. The maximum quantum yield estimated for Potentilla reptans L. (dominant species) was 0.082 mol(CO2) mol-1(photon absorbed), similar to values already published for C3 species. Leaf area index (LAI) increased from winter (less than 0.2 m2 m-2) to spring (up to 4 m2 m-2). Rates of canopy photosynthesis (measured with a canopy chamber) strongly depended on LAI and temperature, in addition to irradiance. They reached a maximum of 25 μmol m-2 s-1 and were intermediate between those published for C4 grassland or cultivated species, and on woody species. At leaf level, simulations gave realistic predictions. At canopy level, the model had the ability to reproduce the effects of environmental and seasonal conditions. However, simulations underestimated the photosynthetic activity of the fallow canopy
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