A test of the optimality approach to modelling canopy properties and CO2 uptake by natural vegetation

Stanislaus J. Schymanski, Michael L. Roderick, Murugesu Sivapalan, Lindsay B. Hutley, Jason Beringer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Photosynthesis provides plants with their main building material, carbohydrates, and with the energy necessary to thrive and prosper in their environment. We expect, therefore, that natural vegetation would evolve optimally to maximize its net carbon profit (NCP), the difference between carbon acquired by photosynthesis and carbon spent on maintenance of the organs involved in its uptake. We modelled NCP for an optimal vegetation for a site in the wet-dry tropics of north Australia based on this hypothesis and on an ecophysiological gas exchange and photosynthesis model, and compared the modelled CO2 fluxes and canopy properties with observations from the site. The comparison gives insights into theoretical and real controls on gas exchange and canopy structure, and supports the optimality approach for the modelling of gas exchange of natural vegetation. The main advantage of the optimality approach we adopt is that no assumptions about the particular vegetation of a site are required, making it a very powerful tool for predicting vegetation response to long-term climate or land use change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1586-1598
Number of pages13
JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Adaptation
  • Assimilation
  • Costs and benefits
  • Gas exchange
  • Optimization
  • Photosynthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science

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