Effects of elevated CO2 and defoliation on compensatory growth and photosynthesis of seedlings in a tropical tree, Copaifera aromatica

Catherine E. Lovelock, Juan Posada, Klaus Winter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


After defoliation by herbivores, some plants exhibit enhanced rates of photosynthesis and growth that enable them to compensate for lost tissue, thus maintaining their fitness relative to competing, undefoliated plants. Our aim was to determine whether compensatory photosynthesis and growth would be altered by increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2. Defoliation of developing leaflets on seedlings of a tropical tree, Copaifera aromatica caused increases in photosynthesis under ambient CO2, but not under elevated CO2. An enhancement in the development of buds in the leaf axils followed defoliation at ambient levels of CO2. In contrast, under elevated CO2, enhanced development of buds occurred in undefoliated plants with no further enhancement in bud development due to exposure to elevated CO2. Growth of leaf area after defoliation was increased, particularly under elevated CO2. Despite this increase, defoliated plants grown under elevated CO2 were further from compensating for tissue lost during defoliation after 5 1/2 weeks than those grown under ambient CO2 concentrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-287
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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