Recent compilations of experimental and observational data have documented global temperature-dependent patterns of variation in leaf dark respiration (R), but it remains unclear whether local adjustments in respiration over time (through thermal acclimation) are consistent with the patterns in R found across geographical temperature gradients. We integrated results from two global empirical syntheses into a simple temperature-dependent respiration framework to compare the measured effects of respiration acclimation-over-time and variation-across-space to one another, and to a null model in which acclimation is ignored. Using these models, we projected the influence of thermal acclimation on: seasonal variation in R; spatial variation in mean annual R across a global temperature gradient; and future increases in R under climate change. The measured strength of acclimation-over-time produces differences in annual R across spatial temperature gradients that agree well with global variation-across-space. Our models further project that acclimation effects could potentially halve increases in R (compared with the null model) as the climate warms over the 21st Century. Convergence in global temperature-dependent patterns of R indicates that physiological adjustments arising from thermal acclimation are capable of explaining observed variation in leaf respiration at ambient growth temperatures across the globe.
- Autotrophic respiration
- Carbon flux
- Climate change
- Terrestrial biosphere modelling
- Thermal acclimation