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Keywords:

  • CO2 enrichment;
  • global change;
  • Quercus alba;
  • respiration;
  • white oak;
  • woody-tissue respiration

Atmospheric CO2 enrichment is increasingly being reported to inhibit leaf and whole-plant respiration. It is not known, however, whether this response is unique to foliage or whether woody-tissue respiration might be affected as well. This was examined for mid-canopy stem segments of white oak (Quercus alba L.) trees that had been grown in open-top field chambers and exposed to either ambient or ambient + 300 µmol mol−1 CO2 over a 4-year period. Stem respiration measurements were made throughout 1992 by using an infrared gas analyzer and a specially designed in situ cuvette. Rates of woody-tissue respiration were similar between CO2 treatments prior to leaf initiation and after leaf senescence, but were several fold greater for saplings grown at elevated concentrations of CO2 during much of the growing season. These effects were most evident on 7 July when stem respiration rates for trees exposed to elevated CO2 concentrations were 7.25 compared to 3.44 µmol CO2 m−2 s−1 for ambient-grown saplings. While other explanations must be explored, greater rates of stem respiration for saplings grown at elevated CO2 concentrations were consistent with greater rates of stem growth and more stem-wood volume present at the time of measurement. When rates of stem growth were at their maximum (7 July to 3 August), growth respiration accounted for about 80 to 85% of the total respiratory costs of stems at both CO2 treatments, while 15 to 20% supported the costs of stem-wood maintenance. Integrating growth and maintenance respiration throughout the season, taking into account treatment differences in stem growth and volume, indicated that there were no significant effects of elevated CO2 concentration on either respiratory process. Quantitative estimates that could be used in modeling the costs of woody-tissue growth and maintenance respiration are provided.