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Stomatal frequency of Quercus glauca from three material sources shows the same inverse response to atmospheric pCO2

First Author: Hu JJ

Background and Aims

The inverse correlation between atmospheric CO2 partial pressure (pCO2) and stomatal frequency in many plants has been widely used to estimate palaeo-CO2 levels. However, apparent discrepancies exist among the obtained estimates. This study attempts to find a potential proxy for palaeo-CO2 concentrations by analysing the stomatal frequency of Quercus glauca (section Cyclobalanopsis, Fagaceae), a dominant species in East Asian sub-tropical forests with abundant fossil relatives.


Stomatal frequencies of Q. glauca from three material sources were analysed: seedlings grown in four climatic chambers with elevated CO2 ranging from 400 to 1300 ppm; extant samples collected from 14 field sites at altitudes ranging from 142 to 1555 m; and 18 herbarium specimens collected between 1930 and 2011. Stomatal frequency–pCO2 correlations were determined using samples from these three sources.

Key Results

An inverse correlation between stomatal frequency and pCO2 was found for Q. glauca through cross-validation of the three material sources. The combined calibration curves integrating data of extant altitudinal samples and historical herbarium specimens improved the reliability and accuracy of the curves. However, materials in the climatic chambers exhibited a weak response and relatively high stomatal frequency possibly due to insufficient treatment time.


A new inverse stomatal frequency–pCO2 correlation for Q. glauca was determined using samples from three sources. These three material types show the same response, indicating that Q. glauca is sensitive to atmospheric pCO2 and is an ideal proxy for palaeo-CO2 levels. Quercus glauca is a nearest living relative (NLR) of section Cyclobalanopsis fossils, which are widely distributed in the strata of East Asia ranging from the Eocene to Pliocene, thereby providing excellent materials to reconstruct the atmospheric CO2 concentration history of the Cenozoic. Quercus glauca will add to the variety of proxies that can be widely used in addition to Ginkgo and Metasequoia.
Contact the author: Zhou ZK
Page Number: 1147–1158
Issue: 7
Impact Factor: 3.454
Authors units:
PubYear: Jun 2019
Volume: 123
Publication Name: Annals of Botany
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