Leaf gas exchange responses of 13 prairie grassland species to elevated CO2 and increased nitrogen supply


Author for correspondence: Tali D. Lee Tel: +1 612 624 3671 Fax: +1 612 625 5212 Email:tlee@biosci.cbs.umn.edu


  •  Leaf gas exchange responses to elevated CO2 and N are presented for 13 perennial species, representing four functional groups: C3 grasses, C4 grasses, legumes, and nonleguminous forbs. Understanding how CO2 and N effects interact is important to predict plant community response to global change.
  •  Plants were field-grown in monoculture under current ambient and elevated (560 µmol mol−1) CO2 concentrations (free-air CO2 enrichment), in combination with soil N treatments, for two growing seasons.
  •  All species, regardless of functional group, showed pronounced photosynthetic acclimation to elevated CO2, resulting in minimal stimulation of photosynthesis (A) averaging +15% in C3 grasses, +8% in forbs, +7% in legumes and −2% in C4 grasses. The effects of CO2 and soil N supply did not interact for any leaf traits measured. Elevated CO2 consistently decreased stomatal conductance (gs) leading to 40% increase in A/gs.
  •  This substantial acclimation of photosynthesis was greater in magnitude than in most field studies, and was associated with the combined effects of decreased gs and decreased leaf N concentrations in response to growth under elevated CO2.