Low sensitivity of gross primary production to elevated CO2 in a mature eucalypt woodland

Jinyan Yang*, Belinda E. Medlyn, Martin G. De Kauwe, Remko A. Duursma, Mingkai Jiang, Dushan Kumarathunge, Kristine Y. Crous, Teresa E. Gimeno, Agnieszka Wujeska-Klause, David S. Ellsworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The response of mature forest ecosystems to a rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration (span classCombining double low line"inline-formula"iC/ia/span) is a major uncertainty in projecting the future trajectory of the Earth's climate. Although leaf-level net photosynthesis is typically stimulated by exposure to elevated span classCombining double low line"inline-formula"iC/ia/span (espan classCombining double low line"inline-formula"iC/ia/span), it is unclear how this stimulation translates into carbon cycle responses at the ecosystem scale. Here we estimate a key component of the carbon cycle, the gross primary productivity (GPP), of a mature native eucalypt forest exposed to free-air span classCombining double low line"inline-formula"CO2/span enrichment (the EucFACE experiment). In this experiment, light-saturated leaf photosynthesis increased by 19 % in response to a 38 % increase in span classCombining double low line"inline-formula"iC/ia/span. We used the process-based forest canopy model, MAESPA, to upscale these leaf-level measurements of photosynthesis with canopy structure to estimate the GPP and its response to espan classCombining double low line"inline-formula"iC/ia/span. We assessed the direct impact of espan classCombining double low line"inline-formula"iC/ia/span, as well as the indirect effect of photosynthetic acclimation to espan classCombining double low line"inline-formula"iC/ia/span and variability among treatment plots using different model scenarios./p At the canopy scale, MAESPA estimated a GPP of 1574 g C mspan classCombining double low line"inline-formula"-2/span yrspan classCombining double low line"inline-formula"-1/span under ambient conditions across 4 years and a direct increase in the GPP of span classCombining double low line"inline-formula"+/span11 % in response to espan classCombining double low line"inline-formula"iC/ia/span. The smaller canopy-scale response simulated by the model, as compared with the leaf-level response, could be attributed to the prevalence of RuBP regeneration limitation of leaf photosynthesis within the canopy. Photosynthetic acclimation reduced this estimated response to 10 %. After taking the baseline variability in the leaf area index across plots in account, we estimated a field GPP response to espan classCombining double low line"inline-formula"iC/ia/span of 6 % with a 95 % confidence interval (span classCombining double low line"inline-formula"-/span2 %, 14 %). These findings highlight that the GPP response of mature forests to espan classCombining double low line"inline-formula"iC/ia/span is likely to be considerably lower than the response of light-saturated leaf photosynthesis. Our results provide an important context for interpreting the espan classCombining double low line"inline-formula"iC/ia/span responses of other components of the ecosystem carbon cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-279
Number of pages15
JournalBiogeosciences
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2020

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