Offsetting changes in biomass allocation and photosynthesis in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) in response to climate change

Evan H. Delucia, Ragan M. Callaway, William H. Schlesinger

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32 Scopus citations


We examined the effect of climate on aboveground biomass allocation of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) by measuring trees in disjunct forest stands growing on the same substrate at high-elevation montane sites and low-elevation desert sites. Climatic differences between the sites were comparable to the difference between present and future climates of interior North America that is expected to result from a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration. Relative to the montane populations, the desert populations allocated a greater proportion of biomass to sapwood (functional xylem) at the expense of foliage. The leaf/sapwood area ratio and percent of aboveground biomass in sapwood for trees of the same height were 0.201 m2 cm-2 and 58% for montane trees and 0.104 m2 cm-2 and 71% for desert trees. In a phytotron experiment, increases in net photosynthesis and net assimilation rate for seedlings grown under future conditions of high CO2 and temperature were offset by a decrease in leaf area ratio. As was observed for large trees at different elevations, increased temperatures caused an increase in biomass allocation to stem in the phytotron seedlings. Thus, CO2- and temperature-driven shifts in biomass allocation negated the effect on growth of the CO2-driven increase in carbon assimilation rate. Our data from the controlled growth chamber and field experiments suggest that future climate conditions, including elevated atmospheric CO2, may not stimulate growth and productivity of ponderosa pine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-677
Number of pages9
JournalTree Physiology
Issue number7-9
StatePublished - 1994


  • Global warming
  • Growth
  • Productivity


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