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Age-related variation in carbon allocation at tree and stand scales in beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and sessile oak (Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl.) using a chronosequence approach

Abstract : Two types of physiological mechanisms can contribute to growth decline with age: (i) the mechanisms leading to the reduction of carbon assimilation (input) and (ii) those leading to modification of the resource economy. Surprisingly, the processes relating to carbon allocation have been little investigated as compared to research on the processes governing carbon assimilation. The objective of this paper was thus to test the hypothesis that growth decrease related to age is accompanied by changes in carbon allocation to the benefit of storage and reproductive functions in two contrasting broad-leaved species: beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and sessile oak (Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl.). Age-related changes in carbon allocation were studied using a chronosequence approach. Chronosequences, each consisting of several even-aged stands ranging from 14 to 175 years old for beech and from 30 to 134 years old for sessile oak, were divided into five or six age classes. In this study, carbon allocations to growth, storage and reproduction were defined as the relative amount of carbon invested in biomass increment, carbohydrate increment and seed production, respectively. Tree-ring width and allometric relationships were used to assess biomass increment at the tree and stand scales. Below-ground biomass was assessed using a specific allometric relationship between root: shoot ratio and age, established from the literature review. Seasonal variations of carbohydrate concentrations were used to assess carbon allocation to storage. Reproduction effort was quantified for beech stands by collecting seed and cupule production. Age-related flagging of biomass productivity was assessed at the tree and stand scales, and carbohydrate quantities in trees increased with age for both species. Seed and cupule production increased with stand age in beech from 56 gC m−2 year−1 at 30 years old to 129 gCm−2 year−1 at 138 years old. In beech, carbon allocation to storage and reproductive functions increased with age to the detriment of carbon allocation to growth functions. In contrast, the carbon balance between growth and storage remained constant between age classes in sessile oak. The contrasting age-related changes in carbon allocation between beech and sessile oak are discussed with reference to the differences in growing environment, phenology and hydraulic properties of ring-porous and diffuse-porous species.
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Submitted on : Sunday, May 31, 2020 - 9:03:44 AM
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Hélène Genet, Nathalie Bréda, Eric Dufrene. Age-related variation in carbon allocation at tree and stand scales in beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and sessile oak (Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl.) using a chronosequence approach. Tree Physiology, Oxford University Press (OUP): Policy B - Oxford Open Option B, 2010, 30 (2), pp.177-192. ⟨10.1093/treephys/tpp105⟩. ⟨hal-02666584⟩

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