An In Situ Leaf and Branch Warming Experiment in the Amazon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Leaves and branches of mature trees, lianas, and gap species were warmed in an Amazonian forest for 4mo to observe the effect of warming on photosynthesis, stomatal conductance, and transpiration. Electric resistance heaters increased air temperatures near the leaves by approximately 2°C. Sunlit leaf temperatures increased by 2-3°C on average, but during some periods leaf temperatures increased by >5°C. Maximum photosynthesis (Amax) decreased significantly in the warmed leaves vs. the control leaves over the 13-wk study period with an average decrease in Amax of 1.4μmol/m2s (19% decrease from a mean Amax of 7.2μmol/m2s) when measured at 30°C and there were no signs of acclimation to higher temperatures within existing leaves. The decline in Amax was likely due to irreversible temperature damage caused by very high leaf temperatures and not due to Ci limitation of carboxylation. Warming had a larger negative impact on Amax in canopy level tree species than other tested functional groups such as lianas or gap species. Transpiration did not significantly increase in the warmed leaves compared with the control group. This study indicates that increased temperatures due to global warming could potentially decrease future tropical forest carbon uptake by a significant amount. Abstract in Portuguese is available at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)658-665
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Amazon
  • Biosphere-atmosphere exchange
  • Gas exchange
  • Global warming
  • Photosynthesis
  • Warming experiment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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