Increased growth in elevated [CO2]: an early, short-term response?

Authors

  • Mauro Centritto,

    1. Istituto di Biochimica ed Ecofisiologia Vegetale, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, via Salaria km 29.300, 00016 Monterotondo Scalo (Roma), Italy,
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  • Helen S. J. Lee,

    1. Institute of Ecology and Resource Management, University of Edinburgh, Darwin Building, King’s Buildings, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JU, Scotland, UK
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  • PauL. G. Jarvis

    1. Institute of Ecology and Resource Management, University of Edinburgh, Darwin Building, King’s Buildings, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JU, Scotland, UK
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Summary

Saplings of four clones of Sitka spruce and cherry were grown for three and two growing seasons, respectively, in open top chambers at two CO2 concentrations (≈ 350 and ≈ 700 μmol mol–1) to determine whether the increase in total biomass brought about by enhanced [CO2] is a result of a transient or persistent effect in nonlimiting conditions. Classical growth analysis was applied to both species and mean current relative growth rate of total dry mass (RT) and leaf dry mass (RL), and period relative growth rate of total dry mass ( ) and leaf dry mass ( ) were calculated. Sitka spruce saplings and cherry seedlings showed a positive growth response to elevated [CO2], and at the end of the experiments both species were ≈ 40% larger in elevated [CO2] than in ambient [CO2]. As a result, the period mean and were significantly higher in elevated [CO2]. The differences in plant dry mass at the end of the experiments were a consequence of the more rapid growth in the early phase of exposure to elevated [CO2]. After this initial phase mean RT and RL were similar or even lower in elevated [CO2] than in ambient [CO2]. NAR of both species was much higher in elevated [CO2], whereas both LAR, SLA, and LMR showed the opposite trend. The higher LAR and SLA of plants in ambient [CO2] contributed to a compensation by which they maintained RT similar to that of elevated [CO2] saplings despite lower NAR and photosynthetic rate. However, when the same size the trees were similar amongst the [CO2] treatments, indicating that one of the main effect of elevated [CO2] on tree growth is to speed-up early development in all aspects.

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