Title

Dark Respiration Rate Increases With Plant Size In Saplings Of Three Temperate Tree Species Despite Decreasing Tissue Nitrogen And Nonstructural Carbohydrates

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2006

Published In

Tree Physiology

Abstract

In shaded environments, minimizing dark respiration during growth could be an important aspect of maintaining a positive whole-plant net carbon balance. Changes with plant size in both biomass distribution to different tissue types and mass-specific respiration rates (Rd) of those tissues would have an impact on whole-plant respiration. In this paper, we evaluated size-related variation in Rd, biomass distribution, and nitrogen (N) and total nonstructural carbohydrate (TNC) concentrations of leaves, stems and roots of three cold-temperate tree species (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill, Acer rubrum L. and Pinus strobus L.) in a forest understory. We sampled individuals varying in age (6 to 24 years old) and in size (from 2 to 500 g dry mass), and growing across a range of irradiances (from 1 to 13% of full sun) in northern Minnesota, USA. Within each species, we found small changes in Rd, N and TNC when comparing plants growing across this range of light availability. Consistent with our hypotheses, as plants grew larger, whole-plant N and TNC concentrations in all species declined as a result of a combination of changes in tissue N and shifts in biomass distribution patterns. However, contrary to our hypotheses, whole-plant and tissue Rd increased with plant size in the three species.