Journal Article


Jennifer C McElwain
James Heath
Matthew Haworth



index carbon dioxide atmosphere metabolism species specificity atmospheric co2 classification coniferophyta

Differences in the response sensitivity of stomatal index to atmospheric CO2 among four genera of Cupressaceae conifers. (2010)

Abstract BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The inverse relationship between stomatal density (SD: number of stomata per mm(2) leaf area) and atmospheric concentration of CO2 ([CO2]) permits the use of plants as proxies of palaeo-atmospheric CO2. Many stomatal reconstructions of palaeo-[CO2] are based upon multiple fossil species. However, it is unclear how plants respond to [CO2] across genus, family or ecotype in terms of SD or stomatal index (SI: ratio of stomata to epidermal cells). This study analysed the stomatal numbers of conifers from the ancient family Cupressaceae, in order to examine the nature of the SI-[CO2] relationship, and potential implications for stomatal reconstructions of palaeo-[CO2]. Methods Stomatal frequency measurements were taken from historical herbarium specimens of Athrotaxis cupressoides, Tetraclinis articulata and four Callitris species, and live A. cupressoides grown under CO2-enrichment (370, 470, 570 and 670 p.p.m. CO2). KEY RESULTS: T. articulata, C. columnaris and C. rhomboidea displayed significant reductions in SI with rising [CO2]; by contrast, A. cupressoides, C. preissii and C. oblonga show no response in SI. However, A. cupressoides does reduce SI to increases in [CO2] above current ambient (approx. 380 p.p.m. CO2). This dataset suggests that a shared consistent SI-[CO2] relationship is not apparent across the genus Callitris. Conclusions The present findings suggest that it is not possible to generalize how conifer species respond to fluctuations in [CO2] based upon taxonomic relatedness or habitat. This apparent lack of a consistent response, in conjunction with high variability in SI, indicates that reconstructions of absolute palaeo-[CO2] based at the genus level, or upon multiple species for discrete intervals of time are not as reliable as those based on a single or multiple temporally overlapping species.
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Full list of authors on original publication

Jennifer C McElwain, James Heath, Matthew Haworth

Experts in our system

Jennifer C McElwain
University College Dublin
Total Publications: 25
Matthew Haworth
University College Dublin
Total Publications: 5