Effects of elevated [CO2] on photosynthesis in European forest species: a meta-analysis of model parameters


Correspondence: BelindaMedlyn Laboratoire d’Ecophysiologie et Nutrition, Station de Recherches Forestières, INRA Pierroton, BP 45, Gazinet Cedex 33611, France. Fax: +33 5 56 68 05 46; E-mail: Belinda.Medlyn@pierroton.inra.fr


The effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration on growth of forest tree species are difficult to predict because practical limitations restrict experiments to much shorter than the average life-span of a tree. Long-term, process-based computer models must be used to extrapolate from shorter-term experiments. A key problem is to ensure a strong flow of information between experiments and models. In this study, meta-analysis techniques were used to summarize a suite of photosynthetic model parameters obtained from 15 field-based elevated [CO2] experiments on European forest tree species. The parameters studied are commonly used in modelling photosynthesis, and include observed light-saturated photosynthetic rates (Amax), the potential electron transport rate (Jmax), the maximum Rubisco activity (Vcmax) and leaf nitrogen concentration on mass (Nm) and area (Na) bases. Across all experiments, light-saturated photosynthesis was strongly stimulated by growth in elevated [CO2]. However, significant down-regulation of photosynthesis was also observed; when measured at the same CO2 concentration, photosynthesis was reduced by 10–20%. The underlying biochemistry of photosynthesis was affected, as shown by a down-regulation of the parameters Jmax and Vcmax of the order of 10%. This reduction in Jmax and Vcmax was linked to the effects of elevated [CO2] on leaf nitrogen concentration. It was concluded that the current model is adequate to model photosynthesis in elevated [CO2]. Tables of model parameter values for different European forest species are given.