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  1. Abstract

    Climate change is rapidly altering composition, structure, and functioning of the boreal biome, across North America often broadly categorized into ecoregions. The resulting complex changes in different ecoregions present a challenge for efforts to accurately simulate carbon dioxide (CO2) and energy exchanges between boreal forests and the atmosphere with terrestrial ecosystem models (TEMs). Eddy covariance measurements provide valuable information for evaluating the performance of TEMs and guiding their development. Here, we compiled a boreal forest model benchmarking dataset for North America by harmonizing eddy covariance and supporting measurements from eight black spruce (Picea mariana)-dominated, mature forest stands. The eight forest stands, located in six boreal ecoregions of North America, differ in stand characteristics, disturbance history, climate, permafrost conditions and soil properties. By compiling various data streams, the benchmarking dataset comprises data to parameterize, force, and evaluate TEMs. Specifically, it includes half-hourly, gap-filled meteorological forcing data, ancillary data essential for model parameterization, and half-hourly, gap-filled or partitioned component flux data on CO2(net ecosystem production, gross primary production [GPP], and ecosystem respiration [ER]) and energy (latent [LE] and sensible heat [H]) and their daily aggregates screened based on half-hourly gap-filling quality criteria. We present a case study with the Canadian Land Surface Scheme Including Biogeochemical Cycles (CLASSIC) to: (1) demonstrate the utility of our dataset to benchmark TEMs and (2) provide guidance for model development and refinement. Model skill was evaluated using several statistical metrics and further examined through the flux responses to their environmental controls. Our results suggest that CLASSIC tended to overestimate GPP and ER among all stands. Model performance regarding the energy fluxes (i.e., LE and H) varied greatly among the stands and exhibited a moderate correlation with latitude. We identified strong relationships between simulated fluxes and their environmental controls except for H, thus highlighting current strengths and limitations of CLASSIC.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 18, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Arctic wetlands are known methane (CH4) emitters but recent studies suggest that the Arctic CH4sink strength may be underestimated. Here we explore the capacity of well-drained Arctic soils to consume atmospheric CH4using >40,000 hourly flux observations and spatially distributed flux measurements from 4 sites and 14 surface types. While consumption of atmospheric CH4occurred at all sites at rates of 0.092 ± 0.011 mgCH4 m−2 h−1(mean ± s.e.), CH4uptake displayed distinct diel and seasonal patterns reflecting ecosystem respiration. Combining in situ flux data with laboratory investigations and a machine learning approach, we find biotic drivers to be highly important. Soil moisture outweighed temperature as an abiotic control and higher CH4uptake was linked to increased availability of labile carbon. Our findings imply that soil drying and enhanced nutrient supply will promote CH4uptake by Arctic soils, providing a negative feedback to global climate change.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  3. Abstract Aim Understanding the considerable variability and drivers of global leaf photosynthetic capacity [indicated by the maximum carboxylation rate standardized to 25°C ( V c,max25 )] is an essential step for accurate modelling of terrestrial plant photosynthesis and carbon uptake under climate change. Although current environmental conditions have often been connected with empirical and theoretical models to explain global V c,max25 variability through acclimatization and adaptation, long‐term evolutionary history has largely been neglected, but might also explicitly play a role in shaping the V c,max25 variability. Location Global. Time period Contemporary. Major taxa studied Terrestrial plants. Methods We compiled a geographically comprehensive global dataset of V c,max25 for C 3 plants ( n  = 6917 observations from 2157 species and 425 sites covering all major biomes world‐wide), explored the biogeographical and phylogenetic patterns of V c,max25 , and quantified the relative importance of current environmental factors and evolutionary history in driving global V c,max25 variability. Results We found that V c,max25 differed across different biomes, with higher mean values in relatively drier regions, and across different life‐forms, with higher mean values in non‐woody relative to woody plants and in legumes relative to non‐leguminous plants. The values of V c,max25 displayed a significant phylogenetic signal and diverged in a contrasting manner across phylogenetic groups, with a significant trend along the evolutionary axis towards a higher V c,max25 in more modern clades. A Bayesian phylogenetic linear mixed model revealed that evolutionary history (indicated by phylogeny and species) explained nearly 3‐fold more of the variation in global V c,max25 than present‐day environment (53 vs. 18%). Main conclusions These findings contribute to a comprehensive assessment of the patterns and drivers of global V c,max25 variability, highlighting the importance of evolutionary history in driving global V c,max25 variability, hence terrestrial plant photosynthesis. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  4. null (Ed.)
    Many tropical regions are experiencing an intensification of drought, with increasing severity and frequency of the events. However, the forest ecosystem response to these changes is still highly uncertain. It has been hypothesized that on short time scales (from diurnal to seasonal), tropical forests respond to water stress by physiological controls, such as stomata regulation and phenological adjustment, to control increasing atmospheric water demand and cope with reduced water supply. However, the interactions among biological processes and co-varying environmental factors that determine the ecosystem-level fluxes are still unclear. Furthermore, climate variability at longer time scales, such as that generated by ENSO, produces less predictable effects, which might vary among forests and ecoregions within the tropics. This study will present some emerging patterns of response to water stress from five years of observations of water, carbon, and energy fluxes on the seasonal tropical forest in Barro Colorado Island (Panama), including an increase in productivity during the 2015 El Niño. We will show how these responses will depend critically on the combination of environmental factors experienced by the forest along the seasonal cycle. These results suggest a critical role of plant hydraulics in mediating the response to water stress on a broad range of temporal scales, including during the wet seasons when water availability is not a limiting factor. The study also found that the response to large-scale drought events is contingent and might produce a different outcome in different tropical forest areas. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
    Although early theoretical work suggests that competition for light erodes successional diversity in forests, verbal models and recent numerical work with complex mechanistic forest simulators suggest that disturbance in such systems can maintain successional diversity. Nonetheless, if and how allocation tradeoffs between competitors interact with disturbance to maintain high diversity in successional systems remains poorly understood. Here, using mechanistic and analytically tractable models, we show that a theoretically unlimited number of coexisting species can be maintained by allocational tradeoffs such as investing in light-harvesting organs vs. height growth, investing in reproduction vs. growth or survival vs. growth. The models describe the successional dynamics of a forest composed of many patches subjected to random or periodic disturbance, and are consistent with physiologically mechanistic terrestrial ecosystem models, including the terrestrial components of recent Earth System Models. We show that coexistence arises in our models because species specialize in the successional time they best exploit the light environment and convert resources into seeds or contribute to advance regeneration. We also show that our results are relevant to non-forested ecosystems by demonstrating the emergence of similar dynamics in a mechanistic model of competition for light among annual plant species. Finally, we show that coexistence in our models is relatively robust to the introduction of intraspecific variability that weakens the competitive hierarchy caused by asymmetric competition for light. 
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  6. Understanding and predicting the relationship between leaf temperature ( T leaf ) and air temperature ( T air ) is essential for projecting responses to a warming climate, as studies suggest that many forests are near thermal thresholds for carbon uptake. Based on leaf measurements, the limited leaf homeothermy hypothesis argues that daytime T leaf is maintained near photosynthetic temperature optima and below damaging temperature thresholds. Specifically, leaves should cool below T air at higher temperatures (i.e., > ∼25–30°C) leading to slopes <1 in T leaf / T air relationships and substantial carbon uptake when leaves are cooler than air. This hypothesis implies that climate warming will be mitigated by a compensatory leaf cooling response. A key uncertainty is understanding whether such thermoregulatory behavior occurs in natural forest canopies. We present an unprecedented set of growing season canopy-level leaf temperature ( T can ) data measured with thermal imaging at multiple well-instrumented forest sites in North and Central America. Our data do not support the limited homeothermy hypothesis: canopy leaves are warmer than air during most of the day and only cool below air in mid to late afternoon, leading to T can / T air slopes >1 and hysteretic behavior. We find that the majority of ecosystem photosynthesis occurs when canopy leaves are warmer than air. Using energy balance and physiological modeling, we show that key leaf traits influence leaf-air coupling and ultimately the T can / T air relationship. Canopy structure also plays an important role in T can dynamics. Future climate warming is likely to lead to even greater T can , with attendant impacts on forest carbon cycling and mortality risk. 
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  7. Abstract

    Within vascular plants, the partitioning of hydraulic resistance along the soil‐to‐leaf continuum affects transpiration and its response to environmental conditions. In trees, the fractional contribution of leaf hydraulic resistance (Rleaf) to total soil‐to‐leaf hydraulic resistance (Rtotal), or fRleaf(=Rleaf/Rtotal), is thought to be large, but this has not been tested comprehensively. We compiled a multibiome data set of fRleafusing new and previously published measurements of pressure differences within trees in situ. Across 80 samples, fRleafaveraged 0.51 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.46−0.57) and it declined with tree height. We also used the allometric relationship between field‐based measurements of soil‐to‐leaf hydraulic conductance and laboratory‐based measurements of leaf hydraulic conductance to compute the average fRleaffor 19 tree samples, which was 0.40 (95% CI = 0.29−0.56). The in situ technique produces a more accurate descriptor of fRleafbecause it accounts for dynamic leaf hydraulic conductance. Both approaches demonstrate the outsized role of leaves in controlling tree hydrodynamics. A larger fRleafmay help stems from loss of hydraulic conductance. Thus, the decline in fRleafwith tree height would contribute to greater drought vulnerability in taller trees and potentially to their observed disproportionate drought mortality.

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  8. Abstract

    Many tropical regions are experiencing an intensification of drought, with increasing severity and frequency. The ecosystem response to these changes is still highly uncertain. On short time scales (from diurnal to seasonal), tropical forests respond to water stress by physiological controls, such as stomatal regulation and phenological adjustment, to cope with increasing atmospheric water demand and reduced water supply. However, the interactions among biological processes and co‐varying environmental factors that determine the ecosystem‐level fluxes are still unclear. Furthermore, climate variability at longer time scales, such as that generated by ENSO, produces less predictable effects because it depends on a highly stochastic combination of factors that might vary among forests and even between events in the same forest. This study will present some emerging patterns of response to water stress from 5 years of water, carbon, and energy fluxes observed on a seasonal tropical forest in central Panama, including an increase in productivity during the 2015 El Niño. These responses depend on the combination of environmental factors experienced by the forest throughout the seasonal cycle, in particular, increase in solar radiation, stimulating productivity, and increasing vapor pressure deficit (VPD) and decreasing soil moisture, limiting stomata opening. These results suggest a critical role of plant hydraulics in mediating the response to water stress over a broad range of temporal scales (diurnal, intraseasonal, seasonal, and interannual), by acclimating canopy conductance to light and VPD during different soil moisture regimes. A multilayer photosynthesis model coupled with a plant hydraulics scheme can reproduce these complex responses. However, results depend critically on parameters regulating water transport efficiency and the cost of water stress. As these costs have not been properly identified and quantified yet, more empirical research is needed to elucidate physiological mechanisms of hydraulic failure and recover, for example embolism repair and xylem regrowth.

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  9. Abstract

    The climatic feedbacks from vegetation, particularly from tropical forests, can alter climate through land‐atmospheric interactions. Expected shifts in species composition can alter these interactions with profound effects on climate and terrestrial ecosystem dynamics. Ecosystem demographic (ED) models can explicitly represent vegetation dynamics and are a key component of next‐generation Earth System Models (ESMs). Although ED models exhibit greater fidelity and allow more direct comparisons with observations, their interacting parameters can be more difficult to calibrate due to the complex interactions among vegetation groups and physical processes. In addition, while representation of forest successional coexistence in ESMs is necessary to accurately capture forest‐climate interactions, few models can simulate forest coexistence and few studies have calibrated coexisted forest species. Furthermore, although both vegetation characteristics and soil properties affect vegetation dynamics, few studies have paid attention to jointly calibrating parameters related to these two processes. In this study, we develop a computationally‐efficient and physical model structure‐based framework that uses a parallel surrogate global optimization algorithm to calibrate ED models. We calibrate two typically coexisted tropical tree species, early and late successional plants, in a state‐of‐the‐art ED model that is capable of simulating successional diversity in forests. We concurrently calibrate vegetation and soil parameters and validate results against carbon, energy, and water cycle measurements collected in Barro Colorado Island, Panama. The framework can find optimal solutions within 4–12 iterations for 19‐dimensional problems. The calibration for tropical forests has important implications for predicting land‐atmospheric interactions and responses of tropical forests to environmental changes.

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