Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling

Assessing Impacts of Plant Stoichiometric Traits on Terrestrial Ecosystem Carbon Accumulation Using the E3SM Land Model

TitleAssessing Impacts of Plant Stoichiometric Traits on Terrestrial Ecosystem Carbon Accumulation Using the E3SM Land Model
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
JournalJournal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
Volume12
Number4
Abstract / Summary

Carbon (C) enters into the terrestrial ecosystems via photosynthesis and cycles through the system together with other essential nutrients (i.e., nitrogen [N] and phosphorus [P]). Such a strong coupling of C, N, and P leads to the theoretical prediction that limited nutrient availability will limit photosynthesis rate, plant growth, and future terrestrial C dynamics. However, the lack of reliable information about plant tissue stoichiometric constraints remains a challenge for quantifying nutrient limitations on projected global C cycling. In this study, we harmonized observed plant tissue C:N:P stoichiometry from more than 6,000 plant species with the commonly used plant functional type framework in global land models. Using observed C:N:P stoichiometry and the flexibility of these ratios as emergent plant traits, we show that observationally constrained fixed plant stoichiometry does not improve model estimates of present‐day C dynamics compared with unconstrained stoichiometry. However, adopting stoichiometric flexibility significantly improves model predictions of C fluxes and stocks. The 21st century simulations with RCP8.5 CO2 concentrations show that stoichiometric flexibility, rather than baseline stoichiometric ratios, is the dominant controller of plant productivity and ecosystem C accumulation in modeled responses to CO2 fertilization. The enhanced nutrient limitations and plant P use efficiency mainly explain this result. This study is consistent with the previous consensus that nutrient availability will limit xfuture land carbon sequestration but challenges the idea that imbalances between C and nutrient supplies and fixed stoichiometry limit future land C sinks. We show here that it is necessary to represent nutrient stoichiometric flexibility in models to accurately project future terrestrial ecosystem carbon sequestration.

URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2019ms001841
DOI10.1029/2019ms001841
Journal: Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
Year of Publication: 2020
Volume: 12
Number: 4
Publication Date: 04/2020

Carbon (C) enters into the terrestrial ecosystems via photosynthesis and cycles through the system together with other essential nutrients (i.e., nitrogen [N] and phosphorus [P]). Such a strong coupling of C, N, and P leads to the theoretical prediction that limited nutrient availability will limit photosynthesis rate, plant growth, and future terrestrial C dynamics. However, the lack of reliable information about plant tissue stoichiometric constraints remains a challenge for quantifying nutrient limitations on projected global C cycling. In this study, we harmonized observed plant tissue C:N:P stoichiometry from more than 6,000 plant species with the commonly used plant functional type framework in global land models. Using observed C:N:P stoichiometry and the flexibility of these ratios as emergent plant traits, we show that observationally constrained fixed plant stoichiometry does not improve model estimates of present‐day C dynamics compared with unconstrained stoichiometry. However, adopting stoichiometric flexibility significantly improves model predictions of C fluxes and stocks. The 21st century simulations with RCP8.5 CO2 concentrations show that stoichiometric flexibility, rather than baseline stoichiometric ratios, is the dominant controller of plant productivity and ecosystem C accumulation in modeled responses to CO2 fertilization. The enhanced nutrient limitations and plant P use efficiency mainly explain this result. This study is consistent with the previous consensus that nutrient availability will limit xfuture land carbon sequestration but challenges the idea that imbalances between C and nutrient supplies and fixed stoichiometry limit future land C sinks. We show here that it is necessary to represent nutrient stoichiometric flexibility in models to accurately project future terrestrial ecosystem carbon sequestration.

DOI: 10.1029/2019ms001841
Citation:
Zhu, Q, W Riley, C Iversen, and J Kattge.  2020.  "Assessing Impacts of Plant Stoichiometric Traits on Terrestrial Ecosystem Carbon Accumulation Using the E3SM Land Model."  Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 12(4).  https://doi.org/10.1029/2019ms001841.