Dominant temperate and subalpine Japanese trees have variable photosynthetic thermal optima according to site mean annual temperature

Yuta Kobayashi, Chihiro Haga, Naoto Shinohara, Keita Nishizawa, Akira S. Mori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Global flux data analyses have shown a significant positive and linear relationship between site-scale photosynthetic optimum temperature (Topt-s) and averaged temperature variables. However, as existing studies have not fully considered species composition, it remains unclear to what extent the change in Topt-s is derived from intraspecific plasticity or from a difference in species with a consistent species-specific Topt-s. We tested these two hypotheses using the satellite-derived enhanced vegetation index (EVI). Location: Subalpine and temperate forests in Japan. Time period: 2001–2020. Major taxa studied: Thirty-three tree species. Methods: Based on an in situ vegetation survey dataset, we identified 1814 EVI cells (250 m × 250 m) that were characteristic of the spectral reflectance of a single dominant species. For each cell, we pooled EVIs from 2001 to 2020 and estimated the temperature at the time of EVI peak as a species-specific Topt-s. We tested our hypotheses by fitting linear regression models to the Topt-s and mean annual temperature (MAT). A positive slope indicated support for the intraspecific plasticity hypothesis. Results: For 32 of the 33 tree species, the Topt-s increased with an increase in MAT. A linear mixed-effect model provided a good explanation of the variation in the Topt-s based on the MAT (intercept = 14.63, slope = 0.58, marginal R2 =.78), with minimal effect of species difference (conditional R2 =.75). Main conclusions: Our results support the intraspecific plasticity hypothesis. At least in East Asian subalpine and temperate forests, the Topt-s can be estimated from the MAT, irrespective of the dominant canopy species. The observed MAT–Topt-s relationship is consistent with the findings of previous photosynthetic studies and has important implications for the establishment of new algorithms for estimating gross primary productivity that can account explicitly for spatial and temporal differences in temperature-dependent photosynthetic responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-407
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Mar
Externally publishedYes


  • gross primary productivity
  • light-use efficiency
  • optimum air temperature
  • peak photosynthesis timing
  • photosynthetic seasonality
  • photosynthetic temperature response
  • remote sensing
  • thermal acclimatization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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