Articles | Volume 16, issue 4
Research article
20 Aug 2020
Research article |  | 20 Aug 2020

Elevated CO2, increased leaf-level productivity, and water-use efficiency during the early Miocene

Tammo Reichgelt, William J. D'Andrea, Ailín del C. Valdivia-McCarthy, Bethany R. S. Fox, Jennifer M. Bannister, John G. Conran, William G. Lee, and Daphne E. Lee

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Cited articles

Ainsworth, E. A. and Long, S. P.: What have we learned from 15 years of free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE)? A meta-analytic review of the responses of photosynthesis, canopy properties and plant production to rising CO2, New Phytol., 165, 351–372, 2005. 
Askin, R. A. and Raine, J. I.: Oligocene and early Miocene terrestrial palynology of the Cape Roberts drillhole CRP-2/2A, Victoria Land Basin, Antarctica, Terra Antartica, 7, 493–501, 2000. 
Bader, M. K.-F., Leuzinger, S., Keel, S. G., Siegwolf, R. T. W., Hagedorn, F., Schleppi, P., and Körner, C.: Central European hardwood trees in a high CO2 future: synthesis of an 8-year forest canopy CO2 enrichment project, J. Ecol., 101, 1509–1519, 2013. 
Bannister, J. M., Conran, J. G., and Lee, D. E.: Lauraceae from rainforest surrounding an early Miocene maar lake, Otago, southern New Zealand, Rev. Palaeobot. Palyno., 178, 13–34, 2012. 
Bar-On, Y. M., Philips, R., and Milo, R.: The biomass distribution on Earth, P. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 115, 6506–6511, 2018. 
Short summary
Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are increasing in the atmosphere. CO2 has a direct fertilization effect on plants, meaning that plants can photosynthesize more and create more biomass under higher atmospheric CO2. This paper outlines the first direct evidence of a carbon fertilization effect on plants in Earth's past from 23 × 106 yr old fossil leaves, when CO2 was higher. This allowed the biosphere to extend into areas that are currently too dry or too cold for forests.