Light Distribution and Photosynthesis of Metrosideros polymorpha Forests at Both Ends of a Nutrient and Substrate Age Gradient in Hawaii


nutrient limitation
Metrosideros polymorpha
light environment

How to Cite

Cordell, S., & Goldstein, G. (1999). Light Distribution and Photosynthesis of Metrosideros polymorpha Forests at Both Ends of a Nutrient and Substrate Age Gradient in Hawaii. Selbyana, 20(2), 350–356. Retrieved from


Patterns of light distribution, leaf area index (LAI), and canopy photosynthesis were studied in Metrosideros polymorpha forests at both ends of a nutrient and substrate age gradient in the Hawaiian Islands. The two sites differ in the age of the underlying volcanic substrate, and in being limited by nitrogen (N) in the young site (Thurston, Hawaii) and phosphorus (P) in the oldest site (Kokee, Kauai). Long-term fertilization with nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and N+P at both sites has resulted in leaf and canopy level changes. Light transmission through the canopy was lower in the N-addition plot than in the control plot. Increased LAI was observed at the N-amended plot, also suggesting greater light attenuation with increased Í availability. While light intensity was not measured in the old site, LAI was much lower in the subcanopy and near ground levels than in the young site. Furthermore, the effects of nutrient amendments on LAI at the old site were not as large as those observed in the young site. Responses of net CO₂ assimilation (A) to fertilization were different at the young, and old sites. Instantaneous values of Ë remained constant across all plots at the young site, but significantly increased with nutrient amendments at the old site. In contrast, calculated values of canopy carbon gain (annual carbon gain * LAI) at the young site more than doubled with fertilization. The increase in canopy carbon gain at the young site was the result of larger leaves rather than higher photosynthetic rates. Variation on leaf area index and in light distribution was correlated to physiological and morphological traits of M. polymorpha dominated rain forests.


Open Access and Copyright Notice


Selbyana is committed to real and immediate open access for academic work. All of Selbyana's articles and reviews are free to access immediately upon publication. There are no author charges (APCs) prior to publication, and no charges for readers to download articles and reviews for their own scholarly use.  To facilitate this, Selbyana depends on the financial backing of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, the hard work and dedication of its editorial team and advisory board, and the continuing support of its network of peer reviewers and partner institutions.

Authors are free to choose which open license they would like to use for their work. Our default license is the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 (CC BY-NC 4.0). While Selbyana’s articles can be copied by anyone for noncommercial purposes if proper credit is given, all materials are published under an open-access license with authors retaining full and permanent ownership of their work. The author grants Selbyana a perpetual, non-exclusive right to publish the work and to include it in other aggregations and indexes to achieve broader impact and visibility.

Authors are responsible for and required to ascertain that they are in possession of image rights for any and all photographs, illustrations, and figures included in their work or to obtain publication or reproduction rights from the rights holders. Contents of the journal will be registered with the Directory of Open Access Journals and similar repositories. Authors are encouraged to store their work elsewhere, for instance in institutional repositories or personal websites, including commercial sites such as, to increase circulation (see The Effects of Open Access).