Global variability in leaf respiration in relation to climate, plant functional types and leaf traits

Owen K. Atkin*, Keith J. Bloomfield, Peter B. Reich, Mark G. Tjoelker, Gregory P. Asner, Damien Bonal, Gerhard Bönisch, Matt G. Bradford, Lucas A. Cernusak, Eric G. Cosio, Danielle Creek, Kristine Y. Crous, Tomas F. Domingues, Jeffrey S. Dukes, John J G Egerton, John R. Evans, Graham D. Farquhar, Nikolaos M. Fyllas, Paul P G Gauthier, Emanuel GloorTeresa E. Gimeno, Kevin L. Griffin, Rossella Guerrieri, Mary A. Heskel, Chris Huntingford, Françoise Yoko Ishida, Jens Kattge, Hans Lambers, Michael J. Liddell, Jon Lloyd, Christopher H. Lusk, Roberta E. Martin, Ayal P. Maksimov, Trofim C. Maximov, Yadvinder Malhi, Belinda E. Medlyn, Patrick Meir, Lina M. Mercado, Nicholas Mirotchnick, Desmond Ng, Ülo Niinemets, Odhran S. O'Sullivan, Oliver L. Phillips, Lourens Poorter, Pieter Poot, I. Colin Prentice, Norma Salinas, Lucy M. Rowland, Michael G. Ryan, Stephen Sitch, Martijn Slot, Nicholas G. Smith, Matthew H. Turnbull, Mark C. Vanderwel, Fernando Valladares, Erik J. Veneklaas, Lasantha K. Weerasinghe, Christian Wirth, Ian Wright, Kirk R. Wythers, Jen Xiang, Shuang Xiang, Joana Zaragoza-Castells

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    287 Citations (Scopus)


    Summary: Leaf dark respiration (Rdark) is an important yet poorly quantified component of the global carbon cycle. Given this, we analyzed a new global database of Rdark and associated leaf traits. Data for 899 species were compiled from 100 sites (from the Arctic to the tropics). Several woody and nonwoody plant functional types (PFTs) were represented. Mixed-effects models were used to disentangle sources of variation in Rdark. Area-based Rdark at the prevailing average daily growth temperature (T) of each site increased only twofold from the Arctic to the tropics, despite a 20°C increase in growing T (8-28°C). By contrast, Rdark at a standard T (25°C, Rdark 25) was threefold higher in the Arctic than in the tropics, and twofold higher at arid than at mesic sites. Species and PFTs at cold sites exhibited higher Rdark 25 at a given photosynthetic capacity (Vcmax 25) or leaf nitrogen concentration ([N]) than species at warmer sites. Rdark 25 values at any given Vcmax 25 or [N] were higher in herbs than in woody plants. The results highlight variation in Rdark among species and across global gradients in T and aridity. In addition to their ecological significance, the results provide a framework for improving representation of Rdark in terrestrial biosphere models (TBMs) and associated land-surface components of Earth system models (ESMs).

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)614-636
    Number of pages23
    JournalNew Phytologist
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

    Bibliographical note

    Corrigendum: 2016, New Phytologist, Vol. 211, Iss. 3,


    • acclimation
    • aridity
    • climate models
    • leaf nitrogen (N)
    • photosynthesis
    • plant functional types (PFTs)
    • respiration
    • temperature


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