Research visit to the Three Gorges Reservoir with submerged Taxodium

Over the past months, I have helped my Chinese colleague, Jianfeng Hua, from Nanjing to build an incubator to be used in measurement of underwater photosynthesis or respiration. Since the Three Gorges Reservoir was established, the Chinese authorities have planted thousands of trees along the steep banks of the reservoir to stabilize the slopes when the water moves up and down with an annual amplitude of 30 m. They are using an exciting Taxodium hybrid (cypress) that seems to tolerance complete submergence of several months – and surely, partial submergence of six months is no match at all to this tree. I hope Jianfeng Hua and his group will be successful in obtaining funding for future research focusing on this unique system where I believe that there are things to learn both in terms of plant physiology and ecology.

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Many trees are partially submerged for months every year when the water rises in the reservoir...

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... and some are completely submerged in the relatively transparent Yangtze River water.