• Seedling Growth of Two Honey Mesquite Varieties Under CO2 Enrichment

      Derner, Justin D.; Tischler, Charles R.; Polley, H. Wayne; Johnson, Hyrum B. (Society for Range Management, 2005-05-01)
      Seedlings of 2 varieties of honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa var. glandulosa and P. glandulosa var. torreyana) were exposed to 2 concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) (368 and 704 μmol mol-1) in environmentally controlled glasshouses under near-optimal temperature and soil water conditions to determine if CO2 enrichment alters above- and belowground growth responses. CO2 enrichment substantially enhanced both above- and belowground growth variables of both varieties for all harvest dates (8, 16, and 24 days postemergence). This growth enhancement was greater for aboveground variables (21%- 35%) at the first harvest, greater for belowground variables (36%-40%) at the second harvest, and similar for both above- (13%-68%) and belowground (10%-40%) variables at the last harvest. Differences in temporal growth enhancement associated with CO2 enrichment suggest changing carbon allocation priorities, with initial carbon investment allocated primarily aboveground to develop photosynthetic machinery, and later carbon allocations predominately directed toward increased investment in roots. The absence of significant CO2 X variety interactions at any harvest date provides evidence that CO2 enrichment did not exaggerate growth responses between the 2 varieties. These results suggest that varietal differences in rooting and other characteristics did not modify the size advantage of the glandulosa over the torreyana variety, as the absolute differences in sizes did not change as a function of CO2 treatment. Although CO2 enrichment did not exaggerate growth differences between varieties in this species, it is evident that honey mesquite seedlings possess the capacity to respond markedly to CO2 enrichment. The greater root depth of honey mesquite seedlings exposed to CO2 enrichment confers a competitive advantage to mesquite seedlings over grass seedlings, assuming that C3 and C4 grass seedlings will not respond as vigorously to CO2 enrichment. As such, this species should continue to aggressively encroach into grasslands in future CO2-enriched environments.