Global Patterns in Leaf Respiration and its Temperature Response
Tuesday, 15 December 2015: 10:20
2006 (Moscone West)
Leaf respiration (R) represents a massive flux of carbon to the atmosphere. Currently, neither physiological models nor terrestrial biosphere models are able to disentangle sources of variation in leaf R among different plant species and contrasting environments. Similarly, such models do not adequately describe the short-term temperature (T) response of R, which can lead to inaccurate representation of leaf R in simulation models of regional and global terrestrial carbon cyling. Even minor differences in the underlying basal rate of leaf R and/or shape of the T-response curve can significantly impact estimates of carbon released and stored in ecosystems. Given this, we recently assembled and analyzed two new global databases (arctic-to-tropics) of leaf R and its short-term T-dependence. The results highlight variation in basal leaf R among species and across global gradients in T and aridity, with leaf R at a standard T (e.g. 25°C) being greatest in plants growing in the cold, dry Arctic and lowest in the warm, moist tropics. Arctic plants also exhibit higher rates of leaf R at a given photosynthetic capacity or leaf N concentration than their tropical counterparts. The results also point to convergence in the short-term temperature response of respiration across biomes and plant functional types. The applicability and significance of the short-term T-response of R for simulation models of plant and ecosystem carbon fluxes will be discussed.