Optimal Stomatal Behaviour Around the World: Synthesis of a Global Stomatal Conductance Database and Scaling from Leaf to Ecosystem

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Yan-Shih Lin1, Belinda Elizabeth Medlyn2, Remko Duursma3, Iain Colin Prentice2,4 and Han Wang1, (1)Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia, (2)Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, (3)University of Western Sydney, South Windsor, Australia, (4)Imperial College London, Ascot, United Kingdom
Stomatal conductance (gs) is a key land surface attribute as it links transpiration, the dominant component of global land evapotranspiration and a key element of the global water cycle, and photosynthesis, the driving force of the global carbon cycle. Despite the pivotal role of gs in predictions of global water and carbon cycles, a global scale database and an associated globally applicable model of gs that allow predictions of stomatal behaviour are lacking. We present a unique database of globally distributed gs obtained in the field for a wide range of plant functional types (PFTs) and biomes. We employed a model of optimal stomatal conductance to assess differences in stomatal behaviour, and estimated the model slope coefficient, g1, which is directly related to the marginal carbon cost of water, for each dataset. We found that g1 varies considerably among PFTs, with evergreen savanna trees having the largest g1 (least conservative water use), followed by C3 grasses and crops, angiosperm trees, gymnosperm trees, and C4 grasses. Amongst angiosperm trees, species with higher wood density had a higher marginal carbon cost of water, as predicted by the theory underpinning the optimal stomatal model. There was an interactive effect between temperature and moisture availability on g1: for wet environments, g1 was largest in high temperature environments, indicated by high mean annual temperature during the period when temperature above 0oC (Tm), but it did not vary with Tm across dry environments. We examine whether these differences in leaf-scale behaviour are reflected in ecosystem-scale differences in water-use efficiency. These findings provide a robust theoretical framework for understanding and predicting the behaviour of stomatal conductance across biomes and across PFTs that can be applied to regional, continental and global-scale modelling of productivity and ecohydrological processes in a future changing climate.