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New Phytol. 2013 Apr;198(1):156-68. doi: 10.1111/nph.12136. Epub 2013 Jan 29.

Elevated CO2 enrichment induces a differential biomass response in a mixed species temperate forest plantation.

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School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, Bangor University, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW, UK.


In a free-air carbon dioxide (CO(2)) enrichment study (BangorFACE), Alnus glutinosa, Betula pendula and Fagus sylvatica were planted in areas of one-, two- and three-species mixtures (n = 4). The trees were exposed to ambient or elevated CO(2) (580 μmol mol(-1)) for 4 yr, and aboveground growth characteristics were measured. In monoculture, the mean effect of CO(2) enrichment on aboveground woody biomass was + 29, + 22 and + 16% for A. glutinosa, F. sylvatica and B. pendula, respectively. When the same species were grown in polyculture, the response to CO(2) switched to + 10, + 7 and 0% for A. glutinosa, B. pendula and F. sylvatica, respectively. In ambient atmosphere, our species grown in polyculture increased aboveground woody biomass from 12.9 ± 1.4 to 18.9 ± 1.0 kg m(-2), whereas, in an elevated CO(2) atmosphere, aboveground woody biomass increased from 15.2 ± 0.6 to 20.2 ± 0.6 kg m(-2). The overyielding effect of polyculture was smaller (+ 7%) in elevated CO(2) than in an ambient atmosphere (+ 18%). Our results show that the aboveground response to elevated CO(2) is affected significantly by intra- and interspecific competition, and that the elevated CO(2) response may be reduced in forest communities comprising tree species with contrasting functional traits.

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