During fall leaf senescence in deciduous species, photosynthesis nears completion due to chlorophyll breakdown and re-assimilation. However, several other processes such as leaf nutrient uptake, re-translocation, and storage, or tissue dehydration to avoid frost damage, may be important and dependent upon stom-atal opening. We report here on measured changes in photosynthesis (A), leaf conductance to water vapor (g), and WUE (estimated by A/g) in three deciduous tree species (Acer saccharum, Cornus florida, and Ginkgo biloba) during the weeks of leaf senescence preceding abscission. Substantial decreases in A of 60 up to 80% were not matched quantitatively by similar declines in g (40 to 70%), resulting in corresponding decreases in WUE (estimated by A/g) from near 50% to over 300% among the three species. This shift to a lower WUE may reflect adaptive value in maintaining a higher g relative to A during the fall leaf senescence period.
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