Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (292 KB bytes)

Title: Adaptation of sugar maple populations along altitudinal gradients: photosynthesis, respiration, and specific leaf weight

Author: Ledig, F. Thomas; Korbobo, Donald R.;

Date: 1983

Source: American Journal of Botany 70(2):256-265

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: Sugar maple seeds were collected from populations spaced along two altitudinal gradients in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. When grown in a uniform environment, progeny of stands less than 0.8 km apart differed significantly in photosynthesis, respiration, and leaf characteristics, despite a lack of physical barriers to gene migration. Sugar maple is a long-lived (200-300 yr) species with continuous distribution, but adaptive adjustment along the altitudinal gradient has occurred in only 8,000 yr, the time since colonization of the White Mountains in the wake of glacial melting. Photosynthesis was highest in progeny from high-altitude populations, representing the species' ecological margin. High-altitude populations also had the lowest specific leaf weight (SWL), the ratio of leaf weight to leaf area, providing a highly cost-effective photosynthetic system, probably the result of natural selection in a short growing season. Respiration rates were also highest in populations native to high altitudes and constitute the cost of maintaining the photosynthetic machinery at high capacity. Photosynthesis tended toward a minimum and SLW to a maximum at mid-elevations. There were parallel patterns on both gradients, suggesting parallel evolution. There were no differences among sugar maple populations in photosynthetic response to temperature, in contrast to observations on balsam fir in the same locality.

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Ledig, F. Thomas; Korbobo, Donald R. 1983. Adaptation of sugar maple populations along altitudinal gradients: photosynthesis, respiration, and specific leaf weight. American Journal of Botany 70(2):256-265


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.