Modeling the effect of light on whole-stream respiration

Kenneth L. Parkhill, John S. Gulliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Whole-stream respiration is normally assumed to be independent of incident solar radiation, and standard stream productivity analyses use respiration measurements made at night to estimate respiration during the day. To our knowledge, no day-time measurements of whole-stream respiration are available to confirm that it is independent of light flux. Whole-stream respiration originates from both autotrophic and heterotrophic activity, and many mechanisms can combine to complicate respiration dynamics. Evidence that whole-stream respiration iS a function of light flux is fairly strong, albeit indirect. (1) Incident solar radiation has been shown to stimulate autotroph respiration; and (2) if whole-stream respiration is assumed to be independent of light flux, consistent productivity/irradiance relationships cannot be defined. In this paper, we present photorespiration models and show how they can be used to improve predictions of productivity and dissolved oxygen dynamics in streams by eliminating hysteresis in whole-stream productivity/irradiance relationships. We propose that a simple linear function be used to describe the dependence of whole-stream respiration (R) on the average solar flux for the period t(Ī(t)): R = (R20 + β(R)Ī(t))*θ((T-20))/(R) where R20 and β(R) are fitted coefficients, T is temperature in °C, and θ(R) is an Arrhenius coefficient representing the influence of temperature on respiration. We discuss some complications with using photorespiration functions, including how to determine fitted coefficients and how to evaluate the function's utility in productivity models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-342
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Modelling
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - May 17 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by the Duluth Environmental Research Laboratory of the US Environmental Protection Agency under Cooperative Agreement No. CR-820586-02-0 and the National Science Foundation under Grant No. NSF/DEB-9321549.


  • Diel oxygen surveys
  • Photorespiration
  • Photosynthesis
  • Productivity


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