Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Donald Young


It is important to understand mechanisms that facilitate expansion of two common shrubs, Morella cerifera and Baccharis halimifolia in coastal environments. The purpose of my study was to investigate the physiological and structural changes that occur as leaves age. Photosynthesis, incident light, chlorophyll, and leaf C:N ratios were quantified for young, intermediate, and old leaves (distal, central and proximal leaves, respectively). Leaf structural differences were also compared. Leaves did not change morphologically with age. Light decreased with leaf age and during winter months. Photosynthesis showed no seasonal or age related patterns. Chlorophyll increased initially and then declined with age due to self shading. Nitrogen content was highest during spring. Seasonality and leaf age had unique effects on the two study species. Understanding senescence adaptations of these two shrubs can help explain their abundance in coastal ecosystems.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

July 2011

Included in

Biology Commons