, 151:268 | Cite as

Seasonal, daily and diurnal variations in the stable carbon isotope composition of carbon dioxide respired by tree trunks in a deciduous oak forest

  • Florence MaunouryEmail author
  • Daniel Berveiller
  • Caroline Lelarge
  • Jean-Yves Pontailler
  • Laurent Vanbostal
  • Claire Damesin
Ecosystem Ecology


The stable C isotope composition (δ13C) of CO2 respired by trunks was examined in a mature temperate deciduous oak forest (Quercus petraea). Month-to-month, day-to-day and diurnal, measurements were made to determine the range of variations at different temporal scales. Trunk growth and respiration rates were assessed. Phloem tissue was sampled and was analysed for total organic matter and soluble sugar 13C composition. The CO2 respired by trunk was always enriched in 13C relative to the total organic matter, sometimes by as much as 5‰. The δ13C of respired CO2 exhibited a large seasonal variation (3.3‰), with a relative maximum at the beginning of the growth period. The lowest values occurred in summer when the respiration rates were maximal. After the cessation of radial trunk growth, the respired CO2 δ13C values showed a progressive increase, which was linked to a parallel increase in soluble sugar content in the phloem tissue (= 0.95; < 0.01). At the same time, the respiration rates declined. This limited use of the substrate pool might allow the discrimination during respiration to be more strongly expressed. The late-season increase in CO2 δ13C might also be linked to a shift from recently assimilated C to reserves. At the seasonal scale, CO2 δ13C was negatively correlated with air temperature (= −0.80; < 0.01). The diurnal variation sometimes reached 3‰, but the range and the pattern depended on the period within the growing season. Contrary to expectations, diurnal variations were maximal in winter and spring when the leaves were missing or not totally functional. By contrast to the seasonal scale, these diurnal variations were not related to air temperature or sugar content. Our study shows that seasonal and diurnal variations of respired 13C exhibited a similar large range but were probably explained by different mechanisms.


Carbon isotope composition Quercus petraea Soluble sugars Stem respiration 



Many thanks to Alice Michelot and Amandine Hansart for their assistance in the field and laboratory work. The authors are grateful to the Office National des Forêts, especially Michel Bénard, for facilitating the experimental work in the Barbeau forest. The meteorological data (precipitation, humidity) of Fig. 1 were provided by Météo-France (Melun, France). We acknowledge Elizabeth Gerson and International Science Editing for correcting the English language of the manuscript. This research was financed by the French projects: Ministère délégué à la recherche-ACI Jeunes Chercheurs (no. JC10009) and Programme National ACI/FNS ECCO, PNBC (convention no. 0429 FNS), and the ESE laboratory supported by the University Paris XI and CNRS. We are grateful to five anonymous reviewers for useful suggestions, which enabled the authors to improve the clarity of the manuscript. The study complies with current French law.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Florence Maunoury
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel Berveiller
    • 1
  • Caroline Lelarge
    • 2
  • Jean-Yves Pontailler
    • 1
  • Laurent Vanbostal
    • 1
  • Claire Damesin
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution (ESE)Université Paris XI, CNRS UMR 8079Orsay CedexFrance
  2. 2.Institut de Biotechnologies des Plantes, UMR 8618Orsay CedexFrance

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