Title Atmospheric CO₂ enrichment of alpine treeline conifers
Author/s Stephan Hättenschwiler, I. Tanya Handa, Luca Egli, Roman Asshoff, Walter Ammann, Christian Körner
Year 2002
Journal New Phytol 156:363-375
Abstract Experimental CO₂ enrichment of mature Larix decidua and Pinus uncinata trees and their understory vegetation was used to test the carbon limitation hypothesis of treeline formation at the alpine treeline in Switzerland.
Forty plots (each 1.1 m 2 ) were established; half of them were exposed to elevated (566 ppm) atmospheric CO₂ using a free air CO₂ enrichment (FACE) system releasing pure CO₂ , and the other half were treated as controls at current ambient [CO₂].
Reliable and adequate CO₂ control was achieved, with 63% and 90% of 1-min averages having a [CO₂] within ± 10% and ± 20% of the target value, respectively, which is comparable to previous FACE systems. Both tree species showed higher net photosynthesis, lower stomatal conductance, and increased accumulation of nonstructural carbohydrates in response to CO₂ in the first year of treatment. Quite unexpectedly, shoot length increment increased significantly at elevated CO₂ (up to 23%) compared with controls in both species.
The pure CO₂ release technology proved suitable for CO₂ enrichment of native trees on this remote mountain slope. Our results suggest an improved C balance and growth of treeline trees in response to elevated CO₂. However, it is unclear whether this initial growth stimulation will persist in the longer term.
Keywords Carbon limitation hypothesis · elevated CO2 · free air CO2 enrichment (FACE) · gas exchange · Larix decidua · Pinus uncinata · shoot growth · treeline ecotone
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Research project Treeline trees in a CO₂-enriched world