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Irradiance, temperature and rainfall influence leaf dark respiration in woody plants: evidence from comparisons across 20 sites

Wright, Ian J., Reich, Peter B., Atkin, Owen K., Lusk, Christopher H., Tjoelker, Mark G., Westoby, Mark
The new phytologist 2006 v.169 no.2 pp. 309-319
carbon, carbon dioxide, climate, climate change, leaf area, leaves, light intensity, longevity, models, nitrogen content, photosynthesis, rain, temperature, vegetation, woody plants
• Leaf dark respiration (R) is one of the most fundamental physiological processes in plants and is a major component of terrestrial CO₂ input to the atmosphere. Still, it is unclear how predictably species vary in R along broad climate gradients. • Data for R and other key leaf traits were compiled for 208 woody species from 20 sites around the world. We quantified relationships between R and site climate, and climate‐related variation in relationships between R and other leaf traits. • Species at higher‐irradiance sites had higher mean R at a given leaf N concentration, specific leaf area (SLA), photosynthetic capacity (Aₘₐₛₛ) or leaf lifespan than species at lower‐irradiance sites. Species at lower‐rainfall sites had higher mean R at a given SLA or Aₘₐₛₛ than species at higher‐rainfall sites. On average, estimated field rates of R were higher at warmer sites, while no trend with site temperature was seen when R was adjusted to a standard measurement temperature. • Our findings should prove useful for modelling plant nutrient and carbon budgets, and for modelling vegetation shifts with climate change.