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A theory of plant function helps to explain leaf-trait and productivity responses to elevation

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Title: A theory of plant function helps to explain leaf-trait and productivity responses to elevation
Authors: Peng, Y
Bloomfield, K
Prentice, IC
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Several publications have examined leaf‐trait and carbon‐cycling shifts along an Amazon‐Andes transect spanning 3.5 km elevation and 16℃ mean annual temperature. Photosynthetic capacity was previously shown to increase as temperature declines with increasing elevation, counteracting enzyme‐kinetic effects. Primary production declines, nonetheless, due to decreasing light availability. We aimed to predict leaf‐trait and production gradients from first principles, using published data to test an emerging theory whereby photosynthetic traits and primary production depend on optimal acclimation and/or adaptation to environment. We re‐analysed published data for 210 species at 25 sites, fitting linear relationships to elevation for both predicted and observed photosynthetic traits and primary production. Declining leaf‐internal/ambient CO2 ratio (χ) and increasing carboxylation (Vcmax) and electron‐transport (Jmax) capacities with increasing elevation were predicted. Increases in leaf nitrogen content with elevation were explained by increasing Vcmax and leaf mass‐per‐area. Leaf and soil phosphorus covaried, but after controlling for elevation, no nutrient metric accounted for any additional variance in photosynthetic traits. Primary production was predicted to decline with elevation. This analysis unifies leaf and ecosystem observations in a common theoretical framework. The insensitivity of primary production to temperature is shown to emerge as a consequence of the optimization of photosynthetic traits.
Issue Date: 1-Jun-2020
Date of Acceptance: 13-Jan-2020
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/76928
DOI: 10.1111/nph.16447
ISSN: 0028-646X
Publisher: Wiley
Start Page: 1274
End Page: 1284
Journal / Book Title: New Phytologist
Volume: 226
Issue: 5
Copyright Statement: © 2020 The Authors New Phytologist © 2020 New Phytologist Trust. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article, which has been published in final form at https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/nph.16447. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.
Sponsor/Funder: AXA Research Fund
Commission of the European Communities
Funder's Grant Number: AXA Chair Programme in Biosphere and Climate Impacts
787203
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Plant Sciences
acclimation
adaptation
elevation transect
optimality
photosynthesis
plant functional traits
primary production
temperature
CARBON-ISOTOPE DISCRIMINATION
TEMPERATURE RESPONSE
PHOTOSYNTHETIC CAPACITY
THERMAL-ACCLIMATION
FORESTS
MODELS
RESPIRATION
VARIABILITY
REPRESENTATION
PARAMETERS
acclimation
adaptation
elevation transect
optimality
photosynthesis
plant functional traits
primary production
temperature
Plant Biology & Botany
06 Biological Sciences
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
Publication Status: Published
Online Publication Date: 2020-01-23
Appears in Collections:Grantham Institute for Climate Change
Faculty of Natural Sciences