Tropical forest responses to increasing atmospheric CO2: current knowledge and opportunities for future research


Elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations (ca) will undoubtedly affect the metabolism of tropical forests worldwide; however, critical aspects of how tropical forests will respond remain largely unknown. Here, we review the current state of knowledge about physiological and ecological responses, with the aim of providing a framework that can help to guide future experimental research. Modelling studies have indicated that elevated ca can potentially stimulate photosynthesis more in the tropics than at higher latitudes, because suppression of photorespiration by elevated ca increases with temperature. However, canopy leaves in tropical forests could also potentially reach a high temperature threshold under elevated ca that will moderate the rise in photosynthesis. Belowground responses, including fine root production, nutrient foraging and soil organicmatter processing, will be especially important to the integrated ecosystem response to elevated ca. Water use efficiency will increase as ca rises, potentially impacting upon soil moisture status and nutrient availability. Recruitment may be differentially altered for some functional groups, potentially decreasing ecosystem carbon storage. Whole-forest CO2 enrichment experiments are urgently needed to test predictions of tropical forest functioning under elevated ca. Smaller scale experiments in the understorey and in gaps would also be informative, and could provide stepping stones towards stand-scale manipulations. Additional keywords: carbon storage, CO2 enrichment, liana, phosphorus, succession, water use efficiency. Received 20 October 2012, accepted 21 March 2013, published online 16 May 2013

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@inproceedings{Cernusak2013TropicalFR, title={Tropical forest responses to increasing atmospheric CO2: current knowledge and opportunities for future research}, author={Lucas A. Cernusak and Klaus Winter and James W. Dalling and Joseph A M Holtum and Carlos Jaramillo and Christian K{\"{o}rner and Andrew D B Leakey and Richard J. Norby and Benjamin Poulter and Benjamin L Turner and Joseph Wright}, year={2013} }