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Am J Bot. 1997 Nov;84(11):1572.

Stomatal density responses of temperate woodland plants over the past seven decades of CO2 increase: a comparison of Salisbury (1927) with contemporary data.


We investigated the possible effect of recent (1927-1995) increases in the concentration of atmospheric CO2 on the stomatal densities of leaves of a wide range of tree, shrub, and herb species (N = 60) by making new measurements for comparison with corresponding data reported by E. J. Salisbury in 1927--a time when ice core studies indicate CO2 concentrations ~55 mL/L lower than present. A detailed intraspecific study of the herb Mercurialis perennis showed plants of M. perennis in a Cambridgeshire woodland in 1994 had significantly lower stomatal densities, irrespective of leaf insertion point, compared with their 1927 counterparts. Comparisons made across species using evolutionary comparative methods (independent contrasts) revealed a significant (P 2 increases have influenced leaf morphology in a manner consistent with recent experiments and the palaeoecological record. Further analyses suggested that the strength of the stomatal density response was independent of life form but dependent on "exposure" and the initial leaf stomatal density. Consequently, firmer predictions for future changes in stomatal density across all species, expected as a possible result of anthropogenically related CO2 increases, may now be possible.

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