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Title: Tree height strongly affects estimates of water-use efficiency responses to climate and CO2 using isotopes
Authors: Brienen, R. J. W.
Gloor, E.
Clerici, S.
Newton, R.
Arppe, L.
Boom, Arnoud
Bottrell, S.
Callaghan, M.
Heaton, T.
Helama, S.
Helle, G.
Leng, M. J.
Mielikäinen, K.
Oinonen, M.
Timonen, M.
First Published: 18-Aug-2017
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Citation: Nature Communications, 2017, 8, Article number: 288
Abstract: Various studies report substantial increases in intrinsic water-use efficiency (W i ), estimated using carbon isotopes in tree rings, suggesting trees are gaining increasingly more carbon per unit water lost due to increases in atmospheric CO2. Usually, reconstructions do not, however, correct for the effect of intrinsic developmental changes in W i as trees grow larger. Here we show, by comparing W i across varying tree sizes at one CO2 level, that ignoring such developmental effects can severely affect inferences of trees’ W i . W i doubled or even tripled over a trees’ lifespan in three broadleaf species due to changes in tree height and light availability alone, and there are also weak trends for Pine trees. Developmental trends in broadleaf species are as large as the trends previously assigned to CO2 and climate. Credible future tree ring isotope studies require explicit accounting for species-specific developmental effects before CO2 and climate effects are inferred.
DOI Link: 10.1038/s41467-017-00225-z
eISSN: 2041-1723
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © the authors, 2017. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Geography

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