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Elevated CO2 does not increase eucalypt forest productivity on a low-phosphorus soil

Ellsworth, David S.; Anderson, Ian C.; Crous, Kristine Y.; Cooke, Julia; Drake, John E.; Gherlenda, Andrew N.; Gimeno, Teresa E.; Macdonald, Catriona A.; Medlyn, Belinda E.; Powell, Jeff R.; Tjoelker, Mark G. and Reich, Peter B. (2017). Elevated CO2 does not increase eucalypt forest productivity on a low-phosphorus soil. Nature Climate Change, 7(4) pp. 279–282.

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Rising atmospheric CO2 stimulates photosynthesis and productivity of forests, offsetting CO2 emissions. Elevated CO2 experiments in temperate planted forests yielded ~23% increases in productivity over the initial years. Whether similar CO2 stimulation occurs in mature evergreen broadleaved forests on low-phosphorus (P) soils is unknown, largely due to lack of experimental evidence. This knowledge gap creates major uncertainties in future climate projections as a large part of the tropics is P-limited. Here,we increased atmospheric CO2 concentration in a mature broadleaved evergreen eucalypt forest for three years, in the first large-scale experiment on a P-limited site. We show that tree growth and other aboveground productivity components did not significantly increase in response to elevated CO2 in three years, despite a sustained 19% increase in leaf photosynthesis. Moreover, tree growth in ambient CO2 was strongly P-limited and increased by ~35% with added phosphorus. The findings suggest that P availability may potentially constrain CO2-enhanced productivity in P-limited forests; hence, future atmospheric CO2 trajectories may be higher than predicted by some models. As a result, coupled climate-carbon models should incorporate both nitrogen and phosphorus limitations to vegetation productivity in estimating future carbon sinks.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited
ISSN: 1758-6798
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Item ID: 48898
Depositing User: Julia Cooke
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2017 15:49
Last Modified: 31 May 2019 12:22
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