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Biomass production efficiency controlled by management in temperate and boreal ecosystems


Plants acquire carbon through photosynthesis to sustain biomass production, autotrophic respiration and production of non-structural compounds for multiple purposes1. The fraction of photosynthetic production used for biomass production, the biomass production efficiency2, is a key determinant of the conversion of solar energy to biomass. In forest ecosystems, biomass production efficiency was suggested to be related to site fertility2. Here we present a database of biomass production efficiency from 131 sites compiled from individual studies using harvest, biometric, eddy covariance, or process-based model estimates of production. The database is global, but dominated by data from Europe and North America. We show that instead of site fertility, ecosystem management is the key factor that controls biomass production efficiency in terrestrial ecosystems. In addition, in natural forests, grasslands, tundra, boreal peatlands and marshes, biomass production efficiency is independent of vegetation, environmental and climatic drivers. This similarity of biomass production efficiency across natural ecosystem types suggests that the ratio of biomass production to gross primary productivity is constant across natural ecosystems. We suggest that plant adaptation results in similar growth efficiency in high- and low-fertility natural systems, but that nutrient influxes under managed conditions favour a shift to carbon investment from the belowground flux of non-structural compounds to aboveground biomass.

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Figure 1: BPE of natural and managed ecosystems.
Figure 2: Relationship between BP and GPP of natural and managed ecosystems.


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M.C., S.V. and J.B. are Postdoctoral Fellows of the Research Foundation—Flanders (FWO). S.L. is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) Starting grant 242564 (DOFOCO) and M.F.-M. by the Catalan Government’s FI-2013 grants. We also acknowledge the ERC Synergy grant ERC-2013-SyG-610028 IMBALANCE-P. Ancillary data were provided by: G. Alberti and G. Delle Vedove, C. Bernhofer and T. Grünwald, M. Jackowicz-Korczynski, B. Loubet (Environment and Arable Crops Research Unit, INRA, AgroParisTech), A. E. Suyker, M. Vadeboncoeur and D. Zanotelli. This work used eddy covariance data acquired by FLUXNET and, in particular, by the following networks: AmeriFlux (US Department of Energy, Biological and Environmental Research, Terrestrial Carbon Program (DE-FG02-04ER63917 and DE-FG02-04ER63911)), AfriFlux, AsiaFlux, CarboAfrica, CarboEuropeIP, CarboItaly, CarboMont, ChinaFlux, Fluxnet-Canada (supported by CFCAS, NSERC, BIOCAP, Environment Canada, and NRCan), GreenGrass, KoFlux, LBA, NECC, OzFlux, TCOS-Siberia and USCCC. We acknowledge the financial support to the eddy covariance data harmonization provided by CarboEuropeIP, FAO-GTOS-TCO, iLEAPS, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, National Science Foundation, University of Tuscia, Université Laval and Environment Canada, and US Department of Energy, and the database development and technical support from Berkeley Water Center, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Microsoft Research eScience, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of California-Berkeley, and University of Virginia. For sites at Kellogg Biological Station, financial support was provided by the DOE Office of Science (DE-FC02-07ER64494) and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (DE-AC05-76RL01830).

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M.C., S.V., S.L. and I.A.J. conceived the paper; M.C. performed the analyses and wrote the text; S.L. provided ORCHIDEE simulations; J.B. developed the multinomial ordered logistic regressions and the statistics; E.C., D.O., D.P., P.F.S., X.W. and T.Z. provided field data or contributed to data collection from external databases and literature; all authors contributed substantially to discussions and revisions.

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Correspondence to M. Campioli.

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Campioli, M., Vicca, S., Luyssaert, S. et al. Biomass production efficiency controlled by management in temperate and boreal ecosystems. Nature Geosci 8, 843–846 (2015).

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