How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

Click to locate material archived on our website by topic

Do Environmental Stresses Affect Plant Responses to Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment?
Curtis, P.S., Jablonski, L.M. and Wang, X.  2003.  Assessing elevated CO2 responses using meta-analysis.  New Phytologist 160: 6.

What was done
The authors respond to a recent critique (Korner, 2003) of their meta-analysis of plant reproductive responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment (Jablonski et al., 2002).

What was learned
In the words of the authors, "one of the surprising results in Jablonski et al. (2002) was the relative insensitivity of CO2 effects on reproduction to interacting environmental stress factors," including high temperature, low nutrients, high ozone and drought.  "Typical," as they describe it, "was the CO2 effect on total seed number, in which plants grown with some stress factor in combination with elevated CO2 were no different in their reproductive output than unstressed plants grown at high CO2."

What it means
Curtis et al. conclude that the data analyzed by Jablonski et al. (2002) "did not support the hypothesis that interacting stress factors were important drivers of plant reproductive responses to elevated CO2."  This finding, at a minimum [for evidence of even greater responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment in the face of environmental stress factors, especially drought and high temperature, see Idso and Idso (1994)] suggests that the resource limitations and environmental stresses often observed in nature will not preclude the growth-promoting benefits of elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 that are typically observed in laboratory and field experiments.

Idso, K.E. and Idso, S.B.  1994.  Plant responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment in the face of environmental constraints: a review of the past 10 years' research.  Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 69: 153-203.

Jablonski, L.M., Wang, X. and Curtis, P.S.  2002.  Plant reproduction under elevated CO2 conditions: a meta-analysis of reports on 79 crop and wild species.  New Phytologist 156: 9-26.

Korner, C.  2003.  Nutrients and sink activity drive plant CO2 responses - caution with literature-based analysis.  New Phytologist 159: 531-538.

Reviewed 26 November 2003