A new method to measure carbon isotype composition of CO2 respired by trees: stem CO2 equilibration


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    1. Applying Keeling plot techniques to derive ?13C of respiratory input in a closed non-equilibrated chamber can lead to large errors because steady-state diffusion rules are violated in a non-steady-state environment. To avoid these errors, respiratory ?13C can be derived using equilibrated closed chambers. 2. We introduce a new method to obtain stem respired CO2?13C (? st-r) with closed equilibrated stem chambers (E-SC). We present a theoretical model describing the equilibration process, test the model against field data and find excellent agreement. The method is further tested by comparing it with closed non-equilibrated stem chambers (NE-SC); we found no difference between these methods. 3. Our theoretical model to describe CO 2 diffusion from the respiratory pool into the chamber and the equation to derive the ?13C of the efflux are general. They could be applied to other ecosystem components (e.g. soils). 4. Our method is easy to implement, cost effective, minimizes sources of error and allows for rigorous leak detection. One major limitation is its inability to detect rapid change; the equilibration process requires 15 � 2 h. A second limitation is that it cannot be used for species that produce abundant pitch at sites of stem wounding (e.g. Pseudotsuga menziesii). 5. Investigating ?13C of CO2 respired by different ecosystem components is necessary to interpret ?13C of ecosystem respiration. This parameter has major implications with respect to global carbon cycle science. � 2009 British Ecological Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1050-1058
    Number of pages9
    JournalFunctional Ecology
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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