Evidence for widespread thermal optimality of ecosystem respiration

Weinan Chen, Song Wang, Jinsong Wang, Jianyang Xia, Yiqi Luo, Guirui Yu, Shuli Niu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Ecosystem respiration (ER) is among the largest carbon fluxes between the biosphere and the atmosphere. Understanding the temperature response of ER is crucial for predicting the climate change–carbon cycle feedback. However, whether there is an apparent optimum temperature of ER (ToptER) and how it changes with temperature remain poorly understood. Here we analyse the temperature response curves of ER at 212 sites from global FLUXNET. We find that ER at 183 sites shows parabolic temperature response curves and ToptER at which ER reaches the maximum exists widely across biomes around the globe. Among the 15 biotic and abiotic variables examined, ToptER is mostly related to the optimum temperature of gross primary production (GPP, ToptGPP) and annual maximum daily temperature (T max). In addition, ToptER linearly increases with T max across sites and over vegetation types, suggesting its thermal adaptation. The adaptation magnitude of ToptER , which is measured by the change in ToptER per unit change in T max, is positively correlated with the adaptation magnitude of ToptGPP . This study provides evidence of the widespread existence of ToptER and its thermal adaptation with T max across different biomes around the globe. Our findings suggest that carbon cycle models that consider the existence of ToptER and its adaptation have the potential to more realistically predict terrestrial carbon sequestration in a world with changing climate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1379-1387
Number of pages9
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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