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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e56482. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056482. Epub 2013 Feb 15.

Acclimation of foliar respiration and photosynthesis in response to experimental warming in a temperate steppe in northern China.

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  • 1Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.



Thermal acclimation of foliar respiration and photosynthesis is critical for projection of changes in carbon exchange of terrestrial ecosystems under global warming.


A field manipulative experiment was conducted to elevate foliar temperature (Tleaf) by 2.07°C in a temperate steppe in northern China. Rd/Tleaf curves (responses of dark respiration to Tleaf), An/Tleaf curves (responses of light-saturated net CO2 assimilation rates to Tleaf), responses of biochemical limitations and diffusion limitations in gross CO2 assimilation rates (Ag) to Tleaf, and foliar nitrogen (N) concentration in Stipa krylovii Roshev. were measured in 2010 (a dry year) and 2011 (a wet year). Significant thermal acclimation of Rd to 6-year experimental warming was found. However, An had a limited ability to acclimate to a warmer climate regime. Thermal acclimation of Rd was associated with not only the direct effects of warming, but also the changes in foliar N concentration induced by warming.


Warming decreased the temperature sensitivity (Q10) of the response of Rd/Ag ratio to Tleaf. Our findings may have important implications for improving ecosystem models in simulating carbon cycles and advancing understanding on the interactions between climate change and ecosystem functions.

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