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Plant Cell Environ. 2011 Jul;34(7):1207-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2011.02320.x. Epub 2011 Apr 21.

Effects of elevated CO₂, warming and drought episodes on plant carbon uptake in a temperate heath ecosystem are controlled by soil water status.

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Biosystems Division, Risø DTU, Frederiksborgvej, Roskilde, Denmark.


The impact of elevated CO₂, periodic drought and warming on photosynthesis and leaf characteristics of the evergreen dwarf shrub Calluna vulgaris in a temperate heath ecosystem was investigated. Photosynthesis was reduced by drought in midsummer and increased by elevated CO₂ throughout the growing season, whereas warming only stimulated photosynthesis early in the year. At the beginning and end of the growing season, a T × CO₂ interaction synergistically stimulated plant carbon uptake in the combination of warming and elevated CO₂. At peak drought, the D × CO₂ interaction antagonistically down-regulated photosynthesis, suggesting a limited ability of elevated CO₂ to counteract the negative effect of drought. The response of photosynthesis in the full factorial combination (TDCO₂) could be explained by the main effect of experimental treatments (T, D, CO₂) and the two-factor interactions (D × CO₂, T × CO₂). The interactive responses in the experimental treatments including elevated CO₂ seemed to be linked to the realized range of treatment variability, for example with negative effects following experimental drought or positive effects following the relatively higher impact of night-time warming during cold periods early and late in the year. Longer-term experiments are needed to evaluate whether photosynthetic down-regulation will dampen the stimulation of photosynthesis under prolonged exposure to elevated CO₂.

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