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Responses of photosynthetic parameters to drought in subtropical forest ecosystem of China

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      The mechanism underlying the effect of drought on the photosynthetic traits of leaves in forest ecosystems in subtropical regions is unclear. In this study, three limiting processes (stomatal, mesophyll and biochemical limitations) that control the photosynthetic capacity and three resource use efficiencies (intrinsic water use efficiency (iWUE), nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and light use efficiency (LUE)), which were characterized as the interactions between photosynthesis and environmental resources, were estimated in two species (Schima superba and Pinus massoniana) under drought conditions. A quantitative limitation analysis demonstrated that the drought-induced limitation of photosynthesis in Schima superba was primarily due to stomatal limitation, whereas for Pinus massoniana, both stomatal and non-stomatal limitations generally exhibited similar magnitudes. Although the mesophyll limitation represented only 1% of the total limitation in Schima superba, it accounted for 24% of the total limitations for Pinus massoniana. Furthermore, a positive relationship between the LUE and NUE and a marginally negative relationship or trade-off between the NUE and iWUE were observed in the control plots. However, drought disrupted the relationships between the resource use efficiencies. Our findings may have important implications for reducing the uncertainties in model simulations and advancing the understanding of the interactions between ecosystem functions and climate change.

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        Recent climatic changes have enhanced plant growth in northern mid-latitudes and high latitudes. However, a comprehensive analysis of the impact of global climatic changes on vegetation productivity has not before been expressed in the context of variable limiting factors to plant growth. We present a global investigation of vegetation responses to climatic changes by analyzing 18 years (1982 to 1999) of both climatic data and satellite observations of vegetation activity. Our results indicate that global changes in climate have eased several critical climatic constraints to plant growth, such that net primary production increased 6% (3.4 petagrams of carbon over 18 years) globally. The largest increase was in tropical ecosystems. Amazon rain forests accounted for 42% of the global increase in net primary production, owing mainly to decreased cloud cover and the resulting increase in solar radiation.
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          Future climate warming is expected to enhance plant growth in temperate ecosystems and to increase carbon sequestration. But although severe regional heatwaves may become more frequent in a changing climate, their impact on terrestrial carbon cycling is unclear. Here we report measurements of ecosystem carbon dioxide fluxes, remotely sensed radiation absorbed by plants, and country-level crop yields taken during the European heatwave in 2003. We use a terrestrial biosphere simulation model to assess continental-scale changes in primary productivity during 2003, and their consequences for the net carbon balance. We estimate a 30 per cent reduction in gross primary productivity over Europe, which resulted in a strong anomalous net source of carbon dioxide (0.5 Pg C yr(-1)) to the atmosphere and reversed the effect of four years of net ecosystem carbon sequestration. Our results suggest that productivity reduction in eastern and western Europe can be explained by rainfall deficit and extreme summer heat, respectively. We also find that ecosystem respiration decreased together with gross primary productivity, rather than accelerating with the temperature rise. Model results, corroborated by historical records of crop yields, suggest that such a reduction in Europe's primary productivity is unprecedented during the last century. An increase in future drought events could turn temperate ecosystems into carbon sources, contributing to positive carbon-climate feedbacks already anticipated in the tropics and at high latitudes.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modelling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences , Beijing 100101, China
            [2 ]State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences , Beijing 100093, China
            Author notes
            Sci Rep
            Sci Rep
            Scientific Reports
            Nature Publishing Group
            15 December 2015
            : 5
            Copyright © 2015, Macmillan Publishers Limited

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