Application of photorespiration concepts to whole stream productivity

Kenneth L. Parkhill, John S. Gulliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We conducted two-station diel surveys of dissolved oxygen content to estimate whole-stream productivity in the experimental streams of the Monticello Ecological Research Station for two years following channel reconstruction. Community productivity measurements compare well to previous measurements in these streams, but apparent hysteresis in the P/I relation was measured in over two-thirds of the diel surveys. Apparent hysteresis in photosynthesis with solar irradiance is a characteristic of photorespiration, and modeling the effect of light on whole-stream respiratory rates reduced the magnitude of P/I curve hysteresis and improved the predictions of dissolved oxygen content (DO) in the stream. Stream productivity models normally assume respiratory rates measured at night are constant throughout the day, but when this assumption yields apparent hysteresis in the P/I curve, the inclusion of a photorespiration model in the analyses of whole-stream productivity facilitates the comparison of photosynthesis and respiratory rates between different streams. The computed total daily consumption of oxygen by photorespiratory processes is proportional to the total daily photosynthetic production of oxygen in the streams. We also found that the diel DO curves occurring in the experimental streams are best described by a photorespiration model that utilizes a four hour moving average of irradiance. Accounting for photorespiration in the streams increases the apparent efficiency of photosynthesis, improves the accuracy of DO predictions, and reduces uncertainty in photosynthesis and respiratory rate estimates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-19
Number of pages13
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 1998


  • Diel oxygen curve
  • Macrophytes
  • Photorespiration
  • Photosynthesis
  • Respiration


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