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The photosynthetic productivity and the factors affecting it are measured in the nival zone of the Alps. Patterns of CO2 exchange for several lichen species are determined whilst recording environmental factors such as light and temperature and lichen water content. Whilst these records will show the lichen response over the year they can most easily be interpreted when the photosynthetic ability of individual lichens is well known. To achieve this the response of each species to light intensity, temperature, thallus water content and humidity will be determined under fully controlled conditions in the laboratory. The final aim is to achieve an initial carbon balance model for the lichen species. This will be aided considerably by the deploying of a continuously recording chlorophyll fluorescence system that will provide activity data for one lichen species on a better than hourly basis throughout the year.