Rising CO2 levels and the fecundity of forest trees.
We determined the reproductive response of 19-year-old loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) to 4 years of carbon dioxide (CO2) enrichment (ambient concentration plus 200 microliters per liter) in an intact forest. After 3 years of CO2 fumigation, trees were twice as likely to be reproductively mature and produced three times as many cones and seeds as trees at ambient CO2 concentration. A disproportionate carbon allocation to reproduction under CO2 enrichment results in trees reaching maturity sooner and at a smaller size. This reproductive response to future increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration is expected to change loblolly dispersal and recruitment patterns.
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