Climate change is expected to bring warmer temperatures and more variable precipitation patterns worldwide, patterns that will depend on the ability of the world’s flora to take up carbon under these new conditions. In a recent study published in AoB PLANTS, Smith et al. subjected deciduous tree seedlings growing in an old-field ecosystem in Massachusetts, USA to warming and altered precipitation.
They found that leaf carbon uptake was greatest under the coolest, wettest conditions, an effect driven by increased soil water availability in these plots. Their findings suggest that warming may reduce leaf carbon uptake by decreasing soil moisture, an effect that will be exacerbated during drought periods.
Smith, N. G., Pold, G., Goranson, C., & Dukes, J. S. (2016). Characterizing the drivers of seedling leaf gas exchange responses to warming and altered precipitation: indirect and direct effects. AoB Plants, 8, plw066. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/plw066