Elevated atmospheric CO 2 stimulates above ground biomass in a fire-regenerated scrub-oak ecosystem

Paul Dijkstra, Graham Hymus, Debra Colavito, David A. Vieglais, Christina M. Cundari, David P. Johnson, Bruce A. Hungate, C. Ross Hinkle, Bert G. Drake

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85 Scopus citations


The effect of elevated atmospheric CO 2 concentration (C a) on the aboveground biomass of three oak species, Quercus myrtifolia, Q. geminata, and Q. chapmanii, was estimated nondestructively using allometric relationships between stem diameter and aboveground biomass after four years of experimental treatment in a naturally fire-regenerated scrub-oak ecosystem. After burning a stand of scruboak vegetation, re-growing plants were exposed to either current ambient (379 μL L -1 CO 2) or elevated (704 μL L -1 CO 2) C a in 16 open-top chambers over a four-year period, and measurements of stem diameter were carried out annually on all oak shoots within each chamber. Elevated C a significantly increased above-ground biomass, expressed either per unit ground area or per shoot; elevated C a had no effect on shoot density. The relative effect of elevated C a on aboveground biomass increased each year of the study from 44% (May 96-Jan 97), to 55% (Jan 97-Jan 98), 66% (Jan 98-Jan 99), and 75% (Jan 99-Jan 00). The effect of elevated C a was species specific: elevated C a significantly increased aboveground biomass of the dominant species, Q. myrtifolia, and tended to increase aboveground biomass of Q. chapmanii, but had no effect on aboveground biomass of the subdominant, Q. geminata. These results show that rising atmospheric CO 2 has the potential to stimulate aboveground biomass production in ecosystems dominated by woody species, and that species-specific growth responses could, in the long term, alter the composition of the scrub-oak community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-103
Number of pages14
JournalGlobal change biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Biomass
  • Elevated CO
  • Florida scrub
  • Natural forest
  • Q. chapmanii
  • Q. geminata
  • Quercus myrtifolia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • General Environmental Science


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