Seasonal and Inter-Annual Patterns in Ecosystem-Scale Photosynthesis and Respiration in a Temperate Forest Revealed by Isotopic Partitioning of NEE

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 3:25 PM
Richard A Wehr1, J William Munger2, J Barry McManus3, David D Nelson3, Mark S Zahniser3, Steven C Wofsy2 and Scott R Saleska1, (1)University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, United States, (2)Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, United States, (3)Aerodyne Research Inc., Billerica, MA, United States
Measurements of the isotopic composition of the net ecosystem-atmosphere exchange of CO2 (NEE) can be used to partition that exchange into its photosynthetic and respiratory components on an hourly basis, without the need for a priori assumptions about the responses of those components to environmental drivers. This method relies on photosynthesis and respiration having distinct isotopic signatures, which they generally do because the photosynthetic signature varies hourly (e.g. with light availability), whereas the respiratory signature is governed mostly by soil substrate composition and so varies only daily or weekly. Since 2011, we have been measuring the isotopic composition of NEE in a temperate deciduous forest by eddy covariance, using a quantum cascade laser spectrometer. Previously presented isotopic partitioning of the 2011 growing season indicated that ecosystem photosynthesis became more efficient through the summer (with respect to light and water use) and that during the hot, dry period in July, daytime ecosystem respiration was more strongly limited by soil moisture than was nighttime respiration, leading standard non-isotopic partitioning to substantially overestimate daytime ecosystem respiration and hence photosynthesis. Here we extend our analysis to span the three-year period from 2011 through 2013, taking advantage of large inter-annual differences in the seasonal pattern of soil moisture at the forest to test the prediction that standard partitioning exaggerates daytime ecosystem respiration and photosynthesis under drought conditions, and to further explore the mechanisms behind the apparent increase in photosynthetic efficiency through the summer.