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Changes in biomass allocation buffer low CO2 effects on tree growth during the last glaciation

Li, G., Gerhart, L. M., Harrison, S. P., Ward, J. K., Harris, J. M. and Prentice, I. C. (2017) Changes in biomass allocation buffer low CO2 effects on tree growth during the last glaciation. Scientific Reports, 7. 43087. ISSN 2045-2322

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1038/srep43087

Abstract/Summary

Isotopic measurements on junipers growing in southern California during the last glacial, when the ambient atmospheric [CO2] (ca) was ~180 ppm, show the leaf-internal [CO2] (ci) was approaching the modern CO2 compensation point for C3 plants. Despite this, stem growth rates were similar to today. Using a coupled light-use efficiency and tree growth model, we show that it is possible to maintain a stable ci/ca ratio because both vapor pressure deficit and temperature were decreased under glacial conditions at La Brea, and these have compensating effects on the ci/ca ratio. Reduced photorespiration at lower temperatures would partly mitigate the effect of low ci on gross primary production, but maintenance of present-day radial growth also requires a ~27% reduction in the ratio of fine root mass to leaf area. Such a shift was possible due to reduced drought stress under glacial conditions at La Brea. The necessity for changes in allocation in response to changes in [CO2] is consistent with increased below-ground allocation, and the apparent homoeostasis of radial growth, as ca increases today.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:No
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:68718
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group

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