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An alpine treeline in a carbon dioxide-rich world: synthesis of a nine-year free-air carbon dioxide enrichment study
Mountain Ecosystems, WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research-SLF, Davos Dorf, Switzerland .
Forest Soils and Biogeochemistry, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), , Birmensdorf, Switzerland .
Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM), Montreal, Canada .
Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen, Switzerland .
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2013 (English)In: Oecologia, ISSN 0029-8549, E-ISSN 1432-1939, Vol. 171, no 3, 623-637 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We evaluated the impacts of elevated CO2 in a treeline ecosystem in the Swiss Alps in a 9-year free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) study. We present new data and synthesize plant and soil results from the entire experimental period. Light-saturated photosynthesis (A max) of ca. 35-year-old Larix decidua and Pinus uncinata was stimulated by elevated CO2 throughout the experiment. Slight down-regulation of photosynthesis in Pinus was consistent with starch accumulation in needle tissue. Above-ground growth responses differed between tree species, with a 33 % mean annual stimulation in Larix but no response in Pinus. Species-specific CO2 responses also occurred for abundant dwarf shrub species in the understorey, where Vaccinium myrtillus showed a sustained shoot growth enhancement (+11 %) that was not apparent for Vaccinium gaultherioides or Empetrum hermaphroditum. Below ground, CO2 enrichment did not stimulate fine root or mycorrhizal mycelium growth, but increased CO2 effluxes from the soil (+24 %) indicated that enhanced C assimilation was partially offset by greater respiratory losses. The dissolved organic C (DOC) concentration in soil solutions was consistently higher under elevated CO2 (+14 %), suggesting accelerated soil organic matter turnover. CO2 enrichment hardly affected the C–N balance in plants and soil, with unaltered soil total or mineral N concentrations and little impact on plant leaf N concentration or the stable N isotope ratio. Sustained differences in plant species growth responses suggest future shifts in species composition with atmospheric change. Consistently increased C fixation, soil respiration and DOC production over 9 years of CO2 enrichment provide clear evidence for accelerated C cycling with no apparent consequences on the N cycle in this treeline ecosystem.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 171, no 3, 623-637 p.
Keyword [en]
Carbon cycling, Dwarf shrub, Global change, Nitrogen, Treeline conifer
National Category
Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-37385DOI: 10.1007/s00442-012-2576-5ISI: 000316339900004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-37385DiVA: diva2:751965
Available from: 2014-10-02 Created: 2014-10-02 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved

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