Leaf respiration (R) is a major component of carbon balance in forest ecosystems. Clarifying the variability of leaf R within a canopy is essential for predicting the impact of global warming on forest productivity and the potential future function of the forest ecosystem as a carbon sink. We examined vertical and seasonal variations in short-term temperature responses of leaf R as well as environmental factors (light and mean air temperature) and physiological factors [leaf nitrogen (N), leaf mass per area (LMA), and shoot growth] in the canopy of a 10-year-old stand of hinoki cypress [Chamaecyparis obtusa (Sieb. et Zucc.) Endl.] in Kyushu, Japan. Leaf respiration rate adjusted to 20°C (R20) exhibited evident vertical gradients in each season and was correlated with light, LMA and leaf N. In contrast, the temperature sensitivity of leaf R (Q10) did not vary vertically throughout the seasons. Seasonally, Q10 was higher in winter than in summer and was strongly negatively correlated to mean air temperature. A negative correlation of R20 with mean air temperature was also observed for each of the three canopy layers. These results clearly indicate that leaf R was able to adjust to seasonal changes in ambient temperature under field conditions and down-regulate during warmer periods. We also found that the degree of thermal acclimation did not vary with canopy position. Overall, our results suggest that vertical and seasonal variations in temperature responses of leaf R within a hinoki cypress canopy could be predicted by relatively simple parameters (light and temperature). There was an exception of extremely high R20 values in April that may have been due to the onset of shoot growth in spring. Understanding thermal acclimation and variations in leaf R within forest canopies will improve global terrestrial carbon cycle models.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science