Understanding physiological acclimation of photosynthesis and respiration is important in elucidating the metabolic performance of trees in a changing climate. Does physiological acclimation to climate warming mirror acclimation to seasonal temperature changes? We grew Eucalyptus tereticornis trees in the field for 14 months inside 9-m tall whole-tree chambers tracking ambient air temperature (Tair ) or ambient Tair + 3°C (i.e. 'warmed'). We measured light- and CO2 -saturated net photosynthesis (Amax ) and night-time dark respiration (R) each month at 25°C to quantify acclimation. Tree growth was measured, and leaf nitrogen (N) and total nonstructural carbohydrate (TNC) concentrations were determined to investigate mechanisms of acclimation. Warming reduced Amax and R measured at 25°C compared to ambient-grown trees. Both traits also declined as mean daily Tair increased, and did so in a similar way across temperature treatments. Amax and R (at 25°C) both increased as TNC concentrations increased seasonally; these relationships appeared to arise from source-sink imbalances, suggesting potential substrate regulation of thermal acclimation. We found that photosynthesis and respiration each acclimated equivalently to experimental warming and seasonal temperature change of a similar magnitude, reflecting a common, nearly homeostatic constraint on leaf carbon exchange that will be important in governing tree responses to climate warming.
- climate change