The space-time continuum: the effects of elevated CO2 and temperature on trees and the importance of scaling.
To predict how forests will respond to rising temperatures and atmospheric CO₂ concentrations, we need to understand how trees respond to both of these environmental factors. In this review, we discuss the importance of scaling, moving from leaf-level responses to those of the canopy, and from short-term to long-term responses of vegetation to climate change. While our knowledge of leaf-level, instantaneous responses of photosynthesis, respiration, stomatal conductance, transpiration and water-use efficiency to elevated CO₂ and temperature is quite good, our ability to scale these responses up to larger spatial and temporal scales is less developed. We highlight which physiological processes are least understood at various levels of study, and discuss how ignoring differences in the spatial or temporal scale of a physiological process impedes our ability to predict how forest carbon and water fluxes forests will be altered in the future. We also synthesize data from the literature to show that light respiration follows a generalized temperature response across studies, and that the light compensation point of photosynthesis is reduced by elevated growth CO₂. Lastly, we emphasize the need to move beyond single factorial experiments whenever possible, and to combine both CO₂ and temperature treatments in studies of tree performance.
Way, DA; Oren, R; Kroner, Y
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