Stomatal behaviour moderates the water cost of CO2 acquisition for 21 boreal and temperate species under experimental climate change

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The linkage of stomatal behaviour with photosynthesis is critical to understanding water and carbon cycles under global change. The relationship of stomatal conductance (gs) and CO2 assimilation (Anet) across a range of environmental contexts, as represented in the model parameter (g1), has served as a proxy of the marginal water cost of carbon acquisition. We use g1 to assess species differences in stomatal behaviour to a decade of open-air experimental climate change manipulations, asking whether generalisable patterns exist across species and climate contexts. Anet-gs measurements (17 727) for 21 boreal and temperate tree species under ambient and +3.3°C warming, and ambient and ~40% summer rainfall reduction, provided >2700 estimates of g1. Warming and/or reduced rainfall treatments both lowered g1 because those treatments resulted in lower soil moisture and because stomatal behaviour changed more in warming when soil moisture was low. Species tended to respond similarly, although, in species from warmer and drier habitats, g1 tended to be slightly higher and to be the least sensitive to the decrease in soil water. Overall, both warming and rainfall reduction consistently made stomatal behaviour more conservative in terms of water loss per unit carbon gain across 21 species and a decade of experimental observation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPlant Cell and Environment
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy; Office of Science, and Office of Biological and Environmental Research award number DE‐FG02‐07ER644456; Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station MN‐42‐030 and MN‐42‐060; the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resources Sciences and Wilderness Research Foundation, University of Minnesota; the NSF Biological Integration Institute programme (NSF‐DBI 2021898); and funding provided by the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center through the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. Assistance with the experimental operation and data collection was provided by Karen Rice‐David, Kerrie Sendall and numerous interns who worked at the project throughout the years. The authors also want to thank two anonymous reviewers and the editor for their expertise, which helped us to improve our manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Plant, Cell & Environment published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • B4WarmED
  • boreal-temperate ecotone
  • drought
  • g
  • stomatal behaviour
  • stomatal optimisation
  • warming
  • water-use efficiency

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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