Rising CO2 Levels and the Fecundity of Forest Trees

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Science  06 Apr 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5514, pp. 95-98
DOI: 10.1126/science.1057547

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We determined the reproductive response of 19-year-old loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) to 4 years of carbon dioxide (CO2) enrichment (ambient concentration plus 200 microliters per liter) in an intact forest. After 3 years of CO2 fumigation, trees were twice as likely to be reproductively mature and produced three times as many cones and seeds as trees at ambient CO2 concentration. A disproportionate carbon allocation to reproduction under CO2 enrichment results in trees reaching maturity sooner and at a smaller size. This reproductive response to future increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration is expected to change loblolly dispersal and recruitment patterns.

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