Ambient CO2 concentration (together with CO2 exchange and microclimate) was recorded every 30 min for 15 months for Lecanora muralis growing in the Botanical Garden Würzburg (Germany, northern Bavaria), a habitat on the outskirts of the city. Annual mean CO2 was around 17 ppm higher than the global average reported for the time of measurement (361 ppm; 1995/96), and daily values ranged from 317 to 490 ppm. Diel courses of CO2 could be classified into three different types. Type A, when CO2 levels rose overnight and then fell strongly to below global levels during the day, which predominated in the summer (about 75 of days); Type B, irregular diel courses occurred during all seasons with often very rapid changes apparently due to advective CO2 transport; Type C, CO2 concentration was typically almost stable at generally between c. 330 and 430 ppm which predominated in the winter (63 of days).
Under controlled conditions, CO2 saturation of net photosynthesis (NP) of L. muralis at optimal hydration and light occurred at around 1000 ppm. NP was also affected by low CO2 at limiting light and thallus water contents. Based upon these data, we estimated the improvement of NP of L. muralis due to transient increase of ambient CO2 (as compared with the global average) for one selected combination of environmental factors (nocturnal dew or frost). This combination is an important source of water for the lichen, resulting in 40 of its annual production and, especially in these situations, photosynthesis was increased by high ambient CO2 in the early morning under prevailing Type A conditions. After dew activation, light compensation point of NP occurred at an average concentration of 413 ppm and diel maxima of NP at 402 ppm. This allows a rough estimate that the transiently elevated CO2 increased the photosynthetic gain of the lichen after dew of 7, or an improvement to its annual carbon balance of about 3. Conditions, especially interrelationships between lichen hydration, light and CO2 are so complex that we are not yet able to extend our estimates to other environmental situations of photosynthetic activity of L. muralis.