Concepts, Reviews, and Syntheses


, Volume 140, Issue 1, pp 1-10

Carbon dioxide effects on stomatal responses to the environment and water use by crops under field conditions

  • James A. BunceAffiliated withACSL Plant Science Institute B-001, ARS-USDA, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center Email author 

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Reductions in leaf stomatal conductance with rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]) could reduce water use by vegetation and potentially alter climate. Crop plants have among the largest reductions in stomatal conductance at elevated [CO2]. The relative reduction in stomatal conductance caused by a given increase in [CO2] is often not constant within a day nor between days, but may vary considerably with light, temperature and humidity. Species also differ in response, with a doubling of [CO2] reducing mean midday conductances by <15% in some crop species to >50% in others. Elevated [CO2] increases leaf area index throughout the growing season in some species. Simulations, and measurements in free air carbon dioxide enrichment systems both indicate that the relatively large reductions in stomatal conductance in crops would translate into reductions of <10% in evapotranspiration, partly because of increases in temperature and decreases in humidity in the air around crop leaves. The reduction in evapotranspiration in crops is similar to that in other types of vegetation which have smaller relative reductions in stomatal conductance, because of the poorer aerodynamic coupling of the canopy to the atmosphere in crops. The small decreases in evapotranspiration at elevated [CO2] may themselves be important to crop production in dry environments, but changes in climate and microclimate caused by reduced stomatal conductance could also be important to crop production.