Canopy carbon gain and water use: Analysis of old-growth conifers in the Pacific Northwest

Journal Article (Journal Article)

This report summarizes our current knowledge of leaf-level physiological processes that regulate carbon gain and water loss of the dominant tree species in an old-growth forest at the Wind River Canopy Crane Research Facility. Analysis includes measurements of photosynthesis, respiration, stomatal conductance, water potential, stable carbon isotope values, and biogenic hydrocarbon emissions from Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), and western red cedar (Thuja plicata). Leaf-level information is used to scale fluxes up to the canopy to estimate gross primary production using a physiology-based process model. Both light-saturated and in situ photosynthesis exhibit pronounced vertical gradients through the canopy, but are consistently highest in Douglas-fir, intermediate in western hemlock, and lowest in western red cedar. Net photosynthesis and stomatal conductance are strongly dependent on vapor-pressure deficit in Douglas-fir, and decline through the course of a seasonal drought. Foliar respiration is similar for Douglas-fir and western hemlock, and lowest for western red cedar. Water-use efficiency varied with species and tree height, as indexed using stable carbon isotopes values for foliage. Leaf water potential is most negative for Douglas-fir and similar for western hemlock and western red cedar. Terpene fluxes from foliage equal approximately 1 % of the net carbon loss from the forest. Modeled estimates based on physiological measurements show gross primary productivity (GPP) to be about 22 Mg C m-2 y-1. Physiological studies will be necessary to further refine estimates of stand-level carbon balance and to make long-term predictions of changes in carbon balance due to changes in forest structure, species composition, and climate.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Winner, WE; Thomas, SC; Berry, JA; Bond, BJ; Cooper, CE; Hinckley, TM; Ehleringer, JR; Fessenden, JE; Lamb, B; McCarthy, S; McDowell, NG; Phillips, N; Williams, M

Published Date

  • January 1, 2004

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 7 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 482 - 497

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1432-9840

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s10021-004-0139-2

Citation Source

  • Scopus