skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Convergence in the temperature response of leaf respiration across biomes and plant functional types

Abstract

Plant respiration constitutes a massive carbon flux to the atmosphere, and a major control on the evolution of the global carbon cycle. It therefore has the potential to modulate levels of climate change due to the human burning of fossil fuels. Neither current physiological nor terrestrial biosphere models adequately describe its short-term temperature response, and even minor differences in the shape of the response curve can significantly impact estimates of ecosystem carbon release and/or storage. Given this, it is critical to establish whether there are predictable patterns in the shape of the respiration–temperature response curve, and thus in the intrinsic temperature sensitivity of respiration across the globe. By analyzing measurements in a comprehensive database for 231 species spanning 7 biomes, we demonstrate that temperature-dependent increases in leaf respiration do not follow a commonly used exponential function. Instead, we find a decelerating function as leaves warm, reflecting a declining sensitivity to higher temperatures that is remarkably uniform across all biomes and plant functional types. Such convergence in the temperature sensitivity of leaf respiration suggests that there are universally applicable controls on the temperature response of plant energy metabolism, such that a single new function can predict the temperature dependence of leafmore » respiration for global vegetation. This simple function enables straightforward description of plant respiration in the land-surface components of coupled earth system models. Our cross-biome analyses shows significant implications for such fluxes in cold climates, generally projecting lower values compared with previous estimates.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [6];  [6];  [7];  [6];  [8];  [9];  [10];  [11];  [12];  [11];  [13];  [14];  [15];  [16]
  1. Australian National Univ., Canberra, ACT (Australia). Research School of Biology and Division of Plant Sciences; Marine Biological Lab., Woods Hole, MA (United States). The Ecosystems Center
  2. Australian National Univ., Canberra, ACT (Australia). Research School of Biology and Division of Plant Sciences; Univ. of Sheffield (United Kingdom). Animal and Plant Sciences
  3. Univ. of Western Sydney, NSW (Australia). Hawkesbury Inst. for the Environment; Univ. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN (United States). Dept. of Forest Resources
  4. Univ. of Western Sydney, NSW (Australia). Hawkesbury Inst. for the Environment
  5. Australian National Univ., Canberra, ACT (Australia). Research School of Biology and Division of Plant Sciences; Univ. of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka). Faculty of Agriculture
  6. Australian National Univ., Canberra, ACT (Australia). Research School of Biology and Division of Plant Sciences
  7. Australian National Univ., Canberra, ACT (Australia). Research School of Biology and Division of Plant Sciences; Univ. of Western Sydney, NSW (Australia). Hawkesbury Inst. for the Environment
  8. Australian National Univ., Canberra, ACT (Australia). ARC Center of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology and Research School of Biology
  9. Stanford Univ., CA (United States). Carnegie Inst. for Science and Dept. of Global Ecology
  10. Umea Univ. (Sweden). Umea Plant Science Center and Dept. of Plant Physiology
  11. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), Wallingford (United Kingdom). Biosphere-Atmosphere Interactions
  12. Columbia Univ., New York, NY (United States). Dept. of Earth and Environment Sciences and Dept. of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
  13. Swedish Univ. of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Umea (Sweden). Umea Plant Science Center and Dept. of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology
  14. Australian National Univ., Canberra, ACT (Australia). Research School of Biology and Division of Plant Sciences; Univ. of Edinburgh, Scotland (United Kingdom). School of Geosciences
  15. Univ. of Canterbury, Christchurch (New Zealand). Center for Integrative Ecology and School of Biological Sciences
  16. Australian National Univ., Canberra, ACT (Australia). ARC Center of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, Research School of Biology and Division of Plant Sciences
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23); Australian Research Council (ARC); Natural Environment Research Council (NERC); National Science Foundation (NSF)
OSTI Identifier:
1469106
Grant/Contract Number:  
FG02-07ER64456; DP0986823; DP130101252; CE140100008; FT0991448; FT110100457; DP140103415; NE/F002149/1
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 113; Journal Issue: 14; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
Publisher:
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; temperature sensitivity; climate models; carbon exchange; Q10; thermal response

Citation Formats

Heskel, Mary A., O’Sullivan, Odhran S., Reich, Peter B., Tjoelker, Mark G., Weerasinghe, Lasantha K., Penillard, Aurore, Egerton, John J. G., Creek, Danielle, Bloomfield, Keith J., Xiang, Jen, Sinca, Felipe, Stangl, Zsofia R., Martinez-de la Torre, Alberto, Griffin, Kevin L., Huntingford, Chris, Hurry, Vaughan, Meir, Patrick, Turnbull, Matthew H., and Atkin, Owen K. Convergence in the temperature response of leaf respiration across biomes and plant functional types. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1073/pnas.1520282113.
Heskel, Mary A., O’Sullivan, Odhran S., Reich, Peter B., Tjoelker, Mark G., Weerasinghe, Lasantha K., Penillard, Aurore, Egerton, John J. G., Creek, Danielle, Bloomfield, Keith J., Xiang, Jen, Sinca, Felipe, Stangl, Zsofia R., Martinez-de la Torre, Alberto, Griffin, Kevin L., Huntingford, Chris, Hurry, Vaughan, Meir, Patrick, Turnbull, Matthew H., & Atkin, Owen K. Convergence in the temperature response of leaf respiration across biomes and plant functional types. United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1520282113.
Heskel, Mary A., O’Sullivan, Odhran S., Reich, Peter B., Tjoelker, Mark G., Weerasinghe, Lasantha K., Penillard, Aurore, Egerton, John J. G., Creek, Danielle, Bloomfield, Keith J., Xiang, Jen, Sinca, Felipe, Stangl, Zsofia R., Martinez-de la Torre, Alberto, Griffin, Kevin L., Huntingford, Chris, Hurry, Vaughan, Meir, Patrick, Turnbull, Matthew H., and Atkin, Owen K. Mon . "Convergence in the temperature response of leaf respiration across biomes and plant functional types". United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1520282113. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1469106.
@article{osti_1469106,
title = {Convergence in the temperature response of leaf respiration across biomes and plant functional types},
author = {Heskel, Mary A. and O’Sullivan, Odhran S. and Reich, Peter B. and Tjoelker, Mark G. and Weerasinghe, Lasantha K. and Penillard, Aurore and Egerton, John J. G. and Creek, Danielle and Bloomfield, Keith J. and Xiang, Jen and Sinca, Felipe and Stangl, Zsofia R. and Martinez-de la Torre, Alberto and Griffin, Kevin L. and Huntingford, Chris and Hurry, Vaughan and Meir, Patrick and Turnbull, Matthew H. and Atkin, Owen K.},
abstractNote = {Plant respiration constitutes a massive carbon flux to the atmosphere, and a major control on the evolution of the global carbon cycle. It therefore has the potential to modulate levels of climate change due to the human burning of fossil fuels. Neither current physiological nor terrestrial biosphere models adequately describe its short-term temperature response, and even minor differences in the shape of the response curve can significantly impact estimates of ecosystem carbon release and/or storage. Given this, it is critical to establish whether there are predictable patterns in the shape of the respiration–temperature response curve, and thus in the intrinsic temperature sensitivity of respiration across the globe. By analyzing measurements in a comprehensive database for 231 species spanning 7 biomes, we demonstrate that temperature-dependent increases in leaf respiration do not follow a commonly used exponential function. Instead, we find a decelerating function as leaves warm, reflecting a declining sensitivity to higher temperatures that is remarkably uniform across all biomes and plant functional types. Such convergence in the temperature sensitivity of leaf respiration suggests that there are universally applicable controls on the temperature response of plant energy metabolism, such that a single new function can predict the temperature dependence of leaf respiration for global vegetation. This simple function enables straightforward description of plant respiration in the land-surface components of coupled earth system models. Our cross-biome analyses shows significant implications for such fluxes in cold climates, generally projecting lower values compared with previous estimates.},
doi = {10.1073/pnas.1520282113},
journal = {Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America},
number = 14,
volume = 113,
place = {United States},
year = {2016},
month = {3}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 53 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

Modelling respiration of vegetation: evidence for a general temperature-dependent Q10
journal, February 2001


Emission pathways consistent with a 2 °C global temperature limit
journal, October 2011

  • Rogelj, Joeri; Hare, William; Lowe, Jason
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 1, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1258

Thermal acclimation of shoot respiration in an Arctic woody plant species subjected to 22 years of warming and altered nutrient supply
journal, April 2014

  • Heskel, Mary A.; Greaves, Heather E.; Turnbull, Matthew H.
  • Global Change Biology, Vol. 20, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12544

Global Convergence in the Temperature Sensitivity of Respiration at Ecosystem Level
journal, July 2010


A hierarchical analysis of terrestrial ecosystem model Biome-BGC: Equilibrium analysis and model calibration
journal, September 2009


Global convergence in leaf respiration from estimates of thermal acclimation across time and space
journal, April 2015

  • Vanderwel, Mark C.; Slot, Martijn; Lichstein, Jeremy W.
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 207, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.13417

On the Temperature Dependence of Soil Respiration
journal, June 1994

  • Lloyd, J.; Taylor, J. A.
  • Functional Ecology, Vol. 8, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.2307/2389824

Sensitivity analysis of a process-based ecosystem model: Pinpointing parameterization and structural issues: GLOBAL SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS OF LPJ-GUESS
journal, April 2013

  • Pappas, Christoforos; Fatichi, Simone; Leuzinger, Sebastian
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, Vol. 118, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1002/jgrg.20035

Incorporating temperature-sensitive Q 10 and foliar respiration acclimation algorithms modifies modeled ecosystem responses to global change : R ACCLIMATION AND GLOBAL CHANGE
journal, February 2013

  • Wythers, Kirk R.; Reich, Peter B.; Bradford, John B.
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, Vol. 118, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1029/2011JG001897

The WFDEI meteorological forcing data set: WATCH Forcing Data methodology applied to ERA-Interim reanalysis data
journal, September 2014

  • Weedon, Graham P.; Balsamo, Gianpaolo; Bellouin, Nicolas
  • Water Resources Research, Vol. 50, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1002/2014WR015638

Effects of Size and Temperature on Metabolic Rate
journal, September 2001


Scaling of respiration to nitrogen in leaves, stems and roots of higher land plants
journal, August 2008


Thermal acclimation and the dynamic response of plant respiration to temperature
journal, July 2003


Acceleration of global warming due to carbon-cycle feedbacks in a coupled climate model
journal, November 2000

  • Cox, Peter M.; Betts, Richard A.; Jones, Chris D.
  • Nature, Vol. 408, Issue 6809
  • DOI: 10.1038/35041539

The Joint UK Land Environment Simulator (JULES), model description – Part 1: Energy and water fluxes
journal, January 2011

  • Best, M. J.; Pryor, M.; Clark, D. B.
  • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 4, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-4-677-2011

The Joint UK Land Environment Simulator (JULES), model description – Part 2: Carbon fluxes and vegetation dynamics
journal, January 2011

  • Clark, D. B.; Mercado, L. M.; Sitch, S.
  • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 4, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-4-701-2011

The link between a global 2 °C warming threshold and emissions in years 2020, 2050 and beyond
journal, January 2012


Global climate change and terrestrial net primary production
journal, May 1993

  • Melillo, Jerry M.; McGuire, A. David; Kicklighter, David W.
  • Nature, Vol. 363, Issue 6426
  • DOI: 10.1038/363234a0

Contrasting responses of a simple terrestrial ecosystem model to global change
journal, September 2000


Respiration as the main determinant of carbon balance in European forests
journal, April 2000

  • Valentini, R.; Matteucci, G.; Dolman, A. J.
  • Nature, Vol. 404, Issue 6780
  • DOI: 10.1038/35009084

Relationships of leaf dark respiration to leaf nitrogen, specific leaf area and leaf life-span: a test across biomes and functional groups
journal, May 1998

  • Reich, Peter B.; Walters, Michael B.; Ellsworth, David S.
  • Oecologia, Vol. 114, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1007/s004420050471

Effects of Climate Change on Plant Respiration
journal, May 1991

  • Ryan, Michael G.
  • Ecological Applications, Vol. 1, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.2307/1941808

Improving representation of leaf respiration in large-scale predictive climate-vegetation models
journal, April 2014

  • Atkin, Owen K.; Meir, Patrick; Turnbull, Matthew H.
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 202, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.12686

Evaporation and surface temperature
journal, January 1981

  • Monteith, J. L.
  • Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, Vol. 107, Issue 451
  • DOI: 10.1002/qj.49710745102

Very high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for global land areas
journal, January 2005

  • Hijmans, Robert J.; Cameron, Susan E.; Parra, Juan L.
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 25, Issue 15
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.1276

Plant respiration and photosynthesis in global-scale models: incorporating acclimation to temperature and CO 2
journal, September 2012


Global variability in leaf respiration in relation to climate, plant functional types and leaf traits
journal, January 2015

  • Atkin, Owen K.; Bloomfield, Keith J.; Reich, Peter B.
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 206, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.13253

Improving the predictability of global CO 2 assimilation rates under climate change : CO
journal, May 2011

  • Ziehn, T.; Kattge, J.; Knorr, W.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 38, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1029/2011GL047182

ATMOSPHERE: Plant Respiration in a Warmer World
journal, April 2006


The McCree–de Wit–Penning de Vries–Thornley Respiration Paradigms: 30 Years Later
journal, July 2000


High sensitivity of future global warming to land carbon cycle processes
journal, April 2012


General patterns of acclimation of leaf respiration to elevated temperatures across biomes and plant types
journal, December 2014


High-resolution temperature responses of leaf respiration in snow gum ( Eucalyptus pauciflora ) reveal high-temperature limits to respiratory function : Temperature dependence of leaf respiration
journal, January 2013

  • O'Sullivan, Odhran S.; Weerasinghe, K. W. Lasantha K.; Evans, John R.
  • Plant, Cell & Environment, Vol. 36, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.1111/pce.12057

Simulated resilience of tropical rainforests to CO2-induced climate change
journal, March 2013

  • Huntingford, Chris; Zelazowski, Przemyslaw; Galbraith, David
  • Nature Geoscience, Vol. 6, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1741

Experimental Researches in Vegetable Assimilation and Respiration. IV.--A Quantitative Study of Carbon-Dioxide Assimilation and Leaf-Temperature in Natural Illumination
journal, September 1905

  • Blackman, F. F.; Matthaei, G. L. C.
  • Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 76, Issue 511
  • DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1905.0037

Contributions to accelerating atmospheric CO2 growth from economic activity, carbon intensity, and efficiency of natural sinks
journal, October 2007

  • Canadell, J. G.; Le Quere, C.; Raupach, M. R.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 104, Issue 47
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0702737104

Plant Respiration
journal, January 1953


Improving canopy processes in the Community Land Model version 4 (CLM4) using global flux fields empirically inferred from FLUXNET data
journal, January 2011

  • Bonan, Gordon B.; Lawrence, Peter J.; Oleson, Keith W.
  • Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 116, Issue G2
  • DOI: 10.1029/2010JG001593

    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Interactions Between Land-Use Change and Climate-Carbon Cycle Feedbacks
    journal, April 2018


    A widespread thermodynamic effect, but maintenance of biological rates through space across life's major domains
    journal, October 2018

    • Sørensen, Jesper G.; White, Craig R.; Duffy, Grant A.
    • Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 285, Issue 1890
    • DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.1775