Stem maintenance and construction respiration in Pinus ponderosa grown in different concentrations of atmospheric CO2

Eileen V. Carey, Evan H. DeLucia, J. Timothy Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To determine whether long-term growth in enriched CO2 atmospheres changes the woody tissue respiration component of aboveground carbon budgets, we measured woody tissue respiration of stems of 3-year-old ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Laws.) grown in ambient (350 ppm) or twice ambient (700 ppm) atmospheric CO2 concentrations in open-top field chambers located in Placerville, CA. Total respiration rate was measured by gas exchange, and construction respiration was calculated from the construction cost, percent carbon of stem samples and relative growth rate. Maintenance respiration was determined as the difference between total and construction respiration. The Q10 of respiration was greater in stems grown in elevated CO2 than in stems grown in ambient CO2(2.20 versus 1.67). As a result, mean daily respiration per unit volume of wood modeled for the month of September was greater in trees growing in elevated CO2 than in ambient CO2 (46.75 versus 40.45 mol m-3 day-1). These effects of atmospheric CO2 concentration were not the result of differences in relative growth rate. Calorimetric analyses of woody tissue construction cost indicated no difference between treatments; however, trees in the elevated CO2 treatment showed a 1% lower carbon concentration than trees in the ambient CO2 treatment. Estimates of construction respiration did not differ between treatments, confirming that the treatment differences in mean daily respiration rate were attributable to the maintenance component. Under future predicted atmospheric conditions, changes in the maintenance respiration of woody tissue may lead to an increase in the respiration component of whole-plant carbon budgets of ponderosa pine. Our results suggest that potential increases in the maintenance component of stem respiration should be considered when modeling the response of forest stand growth to enriched CO2 atmospheres.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-130
Number of pages6
JournalTree Physiology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1996


  • Construction cost
  • Maintenance respiration
  • Ponderosa pine
  • Q

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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