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    Nutrient supply often limits growth in forest ecosystems and may limit the response of growth to an increase in other resources, or to more favorable environmental factors such as temperature and soil water. To explore the consequences and mechanisms of optimum nutrient supply for forest growth, the Flakaliden research site was established in 1986 on a young Norway spruce site with nutrient-poor soil. This special section on research at Flakaliden presents five papers that explore different facets of nutrition, atmospheric CO2 concentration, [CO2], and increased temperature treatments, using the original experiment as a base. Research at Flakaliden shows the dominant role of nutrition in controlling the response of growth to the increased photosynthesis promoted by elevated [CO2] and temperature. Experiments with whole-tree chambers showed that all treatments (air temperature warming, elevated [CO2] and optimum nutrition) increased shoot photosynthesis by 30-50%, but growth only increased with [CO2] when combined with the optimum nutrition treatment. Elevated [CO2] and temperature increased shoot photosynthesis by increasing the slope between light-saturated photosynthesis and foliar nitrogen by 122%, the initial slope of the light response curve by 52% and apparent quantum yield by 10%. Optimum nutrition also decreased photosynthetic capacity by 17%, but increased it by 62% in elevated [CO2], as estimated from wood δ13C. Elevated air temperature advanced spring recovery of photosynthesis by 37%, but spring frost events remained the controlling factor for photosynthetic recovery, and elevated [CO2] did not affect this. Increased nutrient availability increased wood growth primarily through a 50% increase in tracheid formation, mostly during the peak growth season. Other notable contributions of research at Flakaliden include exploring the role of optimal nutrition in large-scale field trials with foliar analysis, using an ecosystem approach for multifactor experiments, development of whole-tree chambers allowing inexpensive environmental manipulations, long-term deployment of shoot chambers for continuous measurements of gas exchange and exploring the ecosystem response to soil and above-ground tree warming. The enduring legacy of Flakaliden will be the rich data set of long-term, multifactor experiments that has been and will continue to be used in many modeling and cross-site comparison studies.

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    Ryan, Michael G. 2013. Three decades of research at Flakaliden advancing whole-tree physiology, forest ecosystem and global change research. Tree Physiology. 33: 1123-1131.


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    autotrophic respiration, δ13C, elevated [CO2], long-term research, Norway spruce, photosynthetic recovery, Picea abies, soil respiration, soil warming, temperature, tree nutrition, whole-tree chamber, wood formation

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