Journal Article

Leaf respiratory acclimation to climate: comparisons among boreal and temperate tree species along a latitudinal transect

Dylan N. Dillaway and Eric L. Kruger

Edited by Douglas Sprugel

in Tree Physiology

Volume 31, issue 10, pages 1114-1127
Published in print October 2011 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online October 2011 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/treephys/tpr097
Leaf respiratory acclimation to climate: comparisons among boreal and temperate tree species along a latitudinal transect

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In common gardens along an ∼900 km latitudinal transect through Wisconsin and Illinois, USA, tree species typical of boreal and temperate forests were compared with respect to the nature and magnitude of leaf respiratory acclimation to contrasting climates. The boreal representatives were trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) and paper birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.), while the temperate species were eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides Bartr ex. Marsh var. deltoides) and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua L.). Assessments were conducted on seedlings grown from seed sources collected near southern and northern range boundaries, respectively. Nighttime rates of leaf dark respiration (Rd) at common temperatures, as well as Rd's short-term temperature sensitivity (energy of activation, Eo), were assessed for all species and gardens twice during a growing season. Little evidence of Rd thermal acclimation was observed, despite a 12 °C range in average air temperature across gardens. Instead, Rd variation at warm temperatures was linked most closely with prior leaf photosynthetic performance, while Rd variation at cooler temperatures was most strongly related to leaf nitrogen concentration. Moreover, Eo differences across species and gardens appeared to stem from the somewhat independent limitations on warm versus cool Rd. Based on this construct, an empirical model relying on Rd estimates from leaf photosynthesis and nitrogen concentration explained 55% of the observed Eo variation.

Keywords: boreal; climate change; leaf respiration; nitrogen; temperate; temperature; thermal acclimation

Journal Article.  9494 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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