Global convergence in leaf respiration from estimates of thermal acclimation across time and space

Mark C. Vanderwel*, Martijn Slot, Jeremy W. Lichstein, Peter B. Reich, Jens Kattge, Owen K. Atkin, Keith J. Bloomfield, Mark G. Tjoelker, Kaoru Kitajima

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    57 Citations (Scopus)


    Recent compilations of experimental and observational data have documented global temperature-dependent patterns of variation in leaf dark respiration (R), but it remains unclear whether local adjustments in respiration over time (through thermal acclimation) are consistent with the patterns in R found across geographical temperature gradients. We integrated results from two global empirical syntheses into a simple temperature-dependent respiration framework to compare the measured effects of respiration acclimation-over-time and variation-across-space to one another, and to a null model in which acclimation is ignored. Using these models, we projected the influence of thermal acclimation on: seasonal variation in R; spatial variation in mean annual R across a global temperature gradient; and future increases in R under climate change. The measured strength of acclimation-over-time produces differences in annual R across spatial temperature gradients that agree well with global variation-across-space. Our models further project that acclimation effects could potentially halve increases in R (compared with the null model) as the climate warms over the 21st Century. Convergence in global temperature-dependent patterns of R indicates that physiological adjustments arising from thermal acclimation are capable of explaining observed variation in leaf respiration at ambient growth temperatures across the globe.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1026-1037
    Number of pages12
    JournalNew Phytologist
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015


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