Document Type


Publication Date



Northern hardwood forests are experiencing higher temperatures and more extreme heat waves, potentially altering plant physiological processes. We implemented in-situ leaf-level warming along a vertical gradient within a mature forest canopy to investigate photosynthetic acclimation potential of two northern hardwood species, Acer saccharum and Tilia americana. After 7 days of +3°C warming, photosynthetic acclimation was assessed by measuring differences between heated and control photosynthetic rates (Aopt) at leaf optimum temperatures (Topt). We also measured the effects of warming and height on maximum rates of Rubisco carboxylation, stomatal conductance, transpiration, and leaf traits: leaf area, leaf mass per area, leaf nitrogen, and leaf water content. We found no evidence of photosynthetic acclimation for either species, but rather Aopt declined with warming overall. We found slight shifts in LMA and Narea, leaf traits associated with photosynthetic capacity, after 1 week of experimental warming. T. americana LMA and Narea was lower in the upper canopy heated leaves than in the control leaves, contributing a shift in Narea height distribution in the heated leaves. T. americana showed evidence of greater resiliency to warming, with greater thermoregulation, physiological plasticity, and evapotranspiration. As expected, Aopt of A. saccharum increased with height, but Aopt of T. americana was highest in the sub canopy, possibly due to constraints on leaf water balance and photosynthetic capacity in the upper canopy. Thus, models relying on canopy height or light environment may incorrectly estimate vertical variation of photosynthetic capacity. If these species are not able to acclimate to warmer temperatures, we could see alteration of plant carbon balance of these two key northern hardwood species.

Publisher's Statement

© 2018 Carter and Cavaleri. Publisher's version of record: Article deposited here in compliance with publisher policies.

Publication Title

Frontiers in Forests and Global Change

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Publisher's PDF



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.