University of Oulu

Iversen, L. L.; Winkel, A.; Baastrup-Spohr, L.; Hinke, A. B.; Alahuhta, J.; Baattrup-Pedersen, A.; Birk, S.; Brodersen, P.; Chambers, P. A.; Ecke, F.; Feldmann, T.; Gebler, D.; Heino, J.; Jespersen, T. S.; Moe, S. J.; Riis, T.; Sass, L.; Vestergaard, O.; Maberly, S. C.; Sand-Jensen, K.; Pedersen, O. (2019) Catchment properties and the photosynthetic trait composition of freshwater plant communities. Science Vol. 366, Issue 6467, pp. 878-881, DOI: 10.1126/science.aay5945

Catchment properties and the photosynthetic trait composition of freshwater plant communities

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Author: Iversen, L. L.1,2; Winkel, A.1; Baastrup-Spohr, L.1;
Organizations: 1Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
2School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA
3Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki, Finland
5Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
6Aquatic Ecology, Universität Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, Germany
7Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada
8Department of Wildlife, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden
9Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tartu, Estonia
10Department of Ecology and Environment, Poznán University of Life Sciences, Poznan, Poland
11Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
12Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Oslo, Norway
13Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL, USA
14United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, Kenya
15Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Bailrigg, Lancaster, UK
16School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2019
Publish Date: 2020-05-15


Unlike in land plants, photosynthesis in many aquatic plants relies on bicarbonate in addition to carbon dioxide (CO₂) to compensate for the low diffusivity and potential depletion of CO₂ in water. Concentrations of bicarbonate and CO₂ vary greatly with catchment geology. In this study, we investigate whether there is a link between these concentrations and the frequency of freshwater plants possessing the bicarbonate use trait. We show, globally, that the frequency of plant species with this trait increases with bicarbonate concentration. Regionally, however, the frequency of bicarbonate use is reduced at sites where the CO₂ concentration is substantially above the air equilibrium, consistent with this trait being an adaptation to carbon limitation. Future anthropogenic changes of bicarbonate and CO₂ concentrations may alter the species compositions of freshwater plant communities.

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Series: Science
ISSN: 0036-8075
ISSN-E: 1095-9203
ISSN-L: 0036-8075
Volume: 366
Issue: 6467
Pages: 878 - 881
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay5945
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Copyright information: © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. The final authenticated version is available online at: