Effects of CO2 enrichment on whole-plant carbon budget of seedlings of Fagus grandifolia and Acer saccharum in low irradiance.
Carbon exchange rates (CER) and whole-plant carbon balances of beech (Fagus grandifolia) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum) were compared for seedlings grown under low irradiance to determine the effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on shade-tolerant seedlings of co-dominant species. Under contemporary atmospheric CO2, photosynthetic rate per unit mass of beech was lower than for sugar maple, and atmospheric CO2 enrich ment enhanced photosynthesis for beech only. Aboveground respiration per unit mass decreased with CO2 enrichment for both species while root respiration per unitmass decreased for sugar maple only. Under contemporary atmoapheric CO2, beech had lower C uptake per plant than sugar maple, while C losses per plant to nocturnal aboveground and root respiration were similar for both species. Under elevated CO2, C uptake per plant was similar for both species, indicating a significant relative increase in whole-seedling CER with CO2 enrich ment for beech but not for sugar maple. Total C loss per plant to aboveground respiration was decreased for beech only because increase in sugar maple leaf mass counterbalanced a reduction in respiration rates. Carbon loss to root respiration per plant was not changed by CO2 enrichment for either species. However, changes in maintenance respiration cost and nitrogen level suggest changes in tissue composition with elevated CO2. Beech had a greater net daily C gain with CO2 enrichment than did sugar maple in contrast to a lower one under contemporary CO2. Elevated CO2 preferentially enhances the net C balance of beech by increasing photosynthesis and reducing respiration cost. In all cases, the greatest C lost was by roots, indicating the importance of belowground biomass in net C gain. Relative growth rate estimated from biomass accumulation was not affected by CO2 enrichment for either species possibly because of slow growth under low light. This study indicates the importance of direct effects of CO2 enrichment when predicting potential change in species distribution with global climate change.
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