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Optimal stomatal behaviour around the world


Stomatal conductance (gs) is a key land-surface attribute as it links transpiration, the dominant component of global land evapotranspiration, and photosynthesis, the driving force of the global carbon cycle. Despite the pivotal role of gs in predictions of global water and carbon cycle changes, a global-scale database and an associated globally applicable model of gs that allow predictions of stomatal behaviour are lacking. Here, we present a database of globally distributed gs obtained in the field for a wide range of plant functional types (PFTs) and biomes. We find that stomatal behaviour differs among PFTs according to their marginal carbon cost of water use, as predicted by the theory underpinning the optimal stomatal model1 and the leaf and wood economics spectrum2,3. We also demonstrate a global relationship with climate. These findings provide a robust theoretical framework for understanding and predicting the behaviour of gs across biomes and across PFTs that can be applied to regional, continental and global-scale modelling of ecosystem productivity, energy balance and ecohydrological processes in a future changing climate.

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Figure 1: Climatic space covered by the Stomatal Behaviour Synthesis Database, shown as mean temperature during the period with daily mean temperatures above 0 °C and moisture index.
Figure 2: Mean g1 values for plant functional types defined by different classification schemes.
Figure 3: Relationship between g1 and wood density for angiosperm and gymnosperm trees.
Figure 4: Estimated and predicted g1 as a function of and MI.

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This research was supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC MIA Discovery Project 1433500-2012-14). A.R. was financially supported in part by The Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments (NGEE-Arctic) project, which is supported by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the Department of Energy, Office of Science, and through the United States Department of Energy contract No. DE-AC02-98CH10886 to Brookhaven National Laboratory. M.O.d.B. acknowledges that the Brassica data were obtained within a research project financed by the Belgian Science Policy (OFFQ, contract number SD/AF/02) and coordinated by K. Vandermeiren at the Open-Top Chamber research facilities of CODA-CERVA (Tervuren, Belgium).

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Y-S.L., B.E.M. and R.A.D. conceived, designed and analysed the data and wrote the manuscript. I.C.P. contributed to study design and comments on the manuscript. R.A.D., B.E.M. and S.B. contributed to the implementation of the optimal stomatal model for C4 species in the Supplementary Note. H.W. wrote the R script for the implementation of the STASH model and commented on the manuscript. All other authors contributed data and commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Yan-Shih Lin.

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Lin, YS., Medlyn, B., Duursma, R. et al. Optimal stomatal behaviour around the world. Nature Clim Change 5, 459–464 (2015).

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