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Title: Linking plant functional trait plasticity and the large increase in forest water use efficiency

Abstract

Elevated atmospheric CO 2 concentrations are anticipated to enhance photosynthesis and reduce stomatal conductance, thus increasing plant water use efficiency. A recent study based on eddy covariance flux observations from Northern Hemisphere forests showed a large increase in inherent water use efficiency (IWUE). Here we used an updated version of the same data set and robust uncertainty quantification to revisit these contemporary IWUE trends. We tested the hypothesis that the observed IWUE increase could be attributed to interannual trends in plant functional traits, potentially triggered by environmental change. We postulate that IWUE increased by ~1.3% yr -1, which is less than previously reported but still larger than theoretical expectations. Numerical simulations with the Tethys-Chloris ecosystem model using temporally static plant functional traits cannot explain this increase. Simulations with plant functional trait plasticity, i.e., temporal changes in model parameters such as specific leaf area and maximum Rubisco capacity, match the observed trends in IWUE. Our results show that trends in plant functional traits, equal to 1.0% yr -1, can explain the observed IWUE trends. Thus, at decadal or longer time scales, trait plasticity could potentially influence forest water, carbon, and energy fluxes with profound implications for both the monitoring of temporal changes inmore » plant functional traits and their representation in Earth system models.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [1];  [1]; ORCiD logo [3]; ORCiD logo [4];  [5]; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. Federal Inst. of Technology, Zurich (Switzerland)
  2. Univ. of Montreal, QC (Canada)
  3. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  4. Columbia Univ., New York, NY (United States)
  5. Virginia Commonwealth Univ., Richmond, VA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC); National Science Foundation (NSF); Stavros Niarchos Foundation; ETH Zurich Foundation
OSTI Identifier:
1580095
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1390345
Grant/Contract Number:  
[AC02-05CH11231; P2EZP2_162293; ETH‐29 14‐2; 1552304; (1552304; ETH-29 14-2]
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research. Biogeosciences
Additional Journal Information:
[ Journal Volume: 122; Journal Issue: 9]; Journal ID: ISSN 2169-8953
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; water use efficiency; plant functional trait plasticity; vegetation modeling; CO2 fertilization; climate change

Citation Formats

Mastrotheodoros, Theodoros, Pappas, Christoforos, Molnar, Peter, Burlando, Paolo, Keenan, Trevor F., Gentine, Pierre, Gough, Christopher M., and Fatichi, Simone. Linking plant functional trait plasticity and the large increase in forest water use efficiency. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1002/2017jg003890.
Mastrotheodoros, Theodoros, Pappas, Christoforos, Molnar, Peter, Burlando, Paolo, Keenan, Trevor F., Gentine, Pierre, Gough, Christopher M., & Fatichi, Simone. Linking plant functional trait plasticity and the large increase in forest water use efficiency. United States. doi:10.1002/2017jg003890.
Mastrotheodoros, Theodoros, Pappas, Christoforos, Molnar, Peter, Burlando, Paolo, Keenan, Trevor F., Gentine, Pierre, Gough, Christopher M., and Fatichi, Simone. Fri . "Linking plant functional trait plasticity and the large increase in forest water use efficiency". United States. doi:10.1002/2017jg003890. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1580095.
@article{osti_1580095,
title = {Linking plant functional trait plasticity and the large increase in forest water use efficiency},
author = {Mastrotheodoros, Theodoros and Pappas, Christoforos and Molnar, Peter and Burlando, Paolo and Keenan, Trevor F. and Gentine, Pierre and Gough, Christopher M. and Fatichi, Simone},
abstractNote = {Elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations are anticipated to enhance photosynthesis and reduce stomatal conductance, thus increasing plant water use efficiency. A recent study based on eddy covariance flux observations from Northern Hemisphere forests showed a large increase in inherent water use efficiency (IWUE). Here we used an updated version of the same data set and robust uncertainty quantification to revisit these contemporary IWUE trends. We tested the hypothesis that the observed IWUE increase could be attributed to interannual trends in plant functional traits, potentially triggered by environmental change. We postulate that IWUE increased by ~1.3% yr-1, which is less than previously reported but still larger than theoretical expectations. Numerical simulations with the Tethys-Chloris ecosystem model using temporally static plant functional traits cannot explain this increase. Simulations with plant functional trait plasticity, i.e., temporal changes in model parameters such as specific leaf area and maximum Rubisco capacity, match the observed trends in IWUE. Our results show that trends in plant functional traits, equal to 1.0% yr-1, can explain the observed IWUE trends. Thus, at decadal or longer time scales, trait plasticity could potentially influence forest water, carbon, and energy fluxes with profound implications for both the monitoring of temporal changes in plant functional traits and their representation in Earth system models.},
doi = {10.1002/2017jg003890},
journal = {Journal of Geophysical Research. Biogeosciences},
number = [9],
volume = [122],
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {8}
}

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Plant phenotypic plasticity in a changing climate
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A critical appraisal of a combined stomatal-photosynthesis model for C3 plants
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Elevated CO2 effects on plant carbon, nitrogen, and water relations: six important lessons from FACE
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Modelling Stomatal Behaviour and and Photosynthesis of Eucalyptus grandis
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Effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 on fine root production and activity in an intact temperate forest ecosystem
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Do global change experiments overestimate impacts on terrestrial ecosystems?
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TRY - a global database of plant traits: TRY - A GLOBAL DATABASE OF PLANT TRAITS
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The carbon balance of a young Beech forest
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Sensitivity of stomata and water use efficiency to high CO2
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Enhanced seasonal CO2 exchange caused by amplified plant productivity in northern ecosystems
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Ecological limits to plant phenotypic plasticity
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The WACMOS-ET project – Part 2: Evaluation of global terrestrial evaporation data sets
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Factors controlling CO 2 exchange on timescales from hourly to decadal at Harvard Forest
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A worldwide analysis of within-canopy variations in leaf structural, chemical and physiological traits across plant functional types
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    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Coping With Extreme Events: Growth and Water‐Use Efficiency of Trees in Western Mexico During the Driest and Wettest Periods of the Past One Hundred Sixty Years
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    • Castruita‐Esparza, Luis U.; Silva, Lucas C. R.; Gómez‐Guerrero, Armando
    • Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, Vol. 124, Issue 11
    • DOI: 10.1029/2019jg005294