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Species-specific tree growth responses to 9 years of CO(2) enrichment at the alpine treeline

Dawes, Melissa A. and Hättenschwiler, Stephan and Bebi, P. and Hagedorn, Frank and Handa, I. Tanya and Körner, Christian and Rixen, Christian. (2011) Species-specific tree growth responses to 9 years of CO(2) enrichment at the alpine treeline. Journal of ecology, Vol. 99, H. 2. pp. 383-394.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A6001671

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Abstract

1. Using experimental atmospheric CO(2) enrichment, we tested for tree growth stimulation at the high-elevation treeline, where there is overwhelming evidence that low temperature inhibits growth despite an adequate carbon supply. We exposed Larix decidua (European larch) and Pin us mugo ssp. uncinata (mountain pine) to 9 years of free-air CO(2) enrichment (FACE) in an in situ experiment at treeline in the Swiss Alps (2180 m a.s.l.). 2. Accounting for pre-treatment vigour of individual trees, tree ring increments throughout the experimental period were larger in Larix growing under elevated CO(2) but not in Pinus. The magnitude of the CO(2) response in Larix ring width varied over time, with a significant stimulation occurring in treatment years 3-7 (marginal in year 6). 3. After 9 years of treatment, leaf canopy cover, stem basal area and total new shoot production were overall greater in Larix trees growing under elevated CO(2), whereas Pinus showed no such cumulative growth response. The Larix ring width response in years 3-7 could have caused the cumulative CO(2) effect on tree size even if no further stimulation occurred, so it remains unclear if responsiveness was sustained over the longer term. 4. Larix ring width was stimulated more by elevated CO(2) in years with relatively high spring temperatures and an early snowmelt date, suggesting that temperatures were less limiting in these years and greater benefit was gained from extra carbon assimilated under elevated CO(2). The magnitude of CO(2) stimulation was also larger after relatively high temperatures and high solar radiation in the preceding growing season, perhaps reflecting gains due to larger carbon reserves. 5. Synthesis. Contrasting above-ground growth responses of two treeline tree species to elevated CO(2) concentrations suggest that Larix will have a competitive advantage over less responsive species, such as co-occurring Pinus, under future CO(2) concentrations. Stimulation of Larix growt might be especially pronounced in a future warmer climate.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Umweltwissenschaften > Pflanzenökologie (Körner)
UniBasel Contributors:Körner, Christian and Dawes, Melissa
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Bibsysno:Link to catalogue
Publisher:Blackwell
ISSN:0022-0477
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:08 Nov 2012 16:22
Deposited On:08 Nov 2012 16:12

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