The allocation of nonstructural carbon (NSC) to growth, metabolism and storage remains poorly understood, but is critical for the prediction of stress tolerance and mortality. We used the radiocarbon (14C) Ôbomb spikeÕ as a tracer of substrate and age of carbon in stemwood NSC, CO2 emitted by stems, tree ring cellulose and stump sprouts regenerated followingharvesting in mature red maple trees. We addressed the following questions: which factors influence the age of stemwood NSC?; to what extent is stored vs new NSC used for metabolism and growth?; and, is older, stored NSC available for use?
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Sap flow is only part of what determines the total amount of syrup made (and how much money ends up in a syrup producer’s pocket). New research suggests sugar makers may be advised to look to their trees’ canopies as well as the weather forecast if they want to predict the tapping season.
The Acer Climate and Socio-Ecological Research Network (ACERnet) formed recently to study climate impacts on sugar maple and maple syrup production. With funding from the Department of Interior Northeast Climate Science Center, we are focusing our research on the relationship between sap quality and climate, and how producers can and are adapting to climate variability and change.
Relatively little work has been conducted investigating trends and influences of the annual growth of sugar maple trees, utilizing the widths of tree rings to estimate growth rates for each year. Using this tree-ring approach, recent research suggests that growth rates have been decreasing in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State.
Nonstructural carbohydrate reserves support tree metabolism and growth when current photosynthates are insufficient, offering resilience in times of stress. We monitored stemwood nonstructural carbohydrate (starch and sugars) concentrations of the dominant tree species at three sites in the northeastern United States. We estimated the mean age of the starch and sugars in a subset of trees using the radiocarbon (14C) bomb spike. With these data, we then tested different carbon (C) allocation schemes in a process-based model of forest C cycling.