The hypothesis that CO2 gas exchange and chlorophyll a fluorescence (ChlaF) of lichens vary according to the light regimes of their original habitat, as observed in vascular plants, was tested by analysing the photosynthetic performance of 12 populations of seven dorsoventral, foliose lichens collected from open, southexposed rocks to densely shaded forests. Light response curves were induced at optimum thallus water content and ChlaF emission curves at the species-specific photon flux at which the quantum yield of CO2 assimilation is the highest and is saturating the photosynthetic process. Photosynthetic pigments were quantified in crude extracts. The results confirm that the maximum rate of gross photosynthesis is correlated with the chlorophyll content of lichens, which is influenced by light as well as by nitrogen availability. Like leaves, shade tolerant lichens emit more ChlaF than sun-loving ones, whereas the photosynthetic quantum conversion is higher in the latter.
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