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Bringing the Kok effect to light: A review on the integration of daytime respiration and net ecosystem exchange

Heskel, Mary Allison; Atkin, Owen K.; Turnbull, Matthew H.; Griffin, Kevin L.

Net ecosystem exchange (NEE) represents the difference between carbon assimilated through photosynthesis, or gross primary productivity (GPP), and carbon released via ecosystem respiration (ER). NEE, measured via eddy covariance and chamber techniques, must be partitioned into these fluxes to accurately describe and understand the carbon dynamics of an ecosystem. GPP and daytime ER may be significantly overestimated if the light inhibition of foliar mitochondrial respiration, or “Kok effect,” is not accurately estimated and further integrated into ecosystem measurements. The light inhibition of respiration, a composite effect of multiple cellular pathways, is reported to cause between 25‐100% inhibition of foliar mitochondrial respiration, and for this reason needs to be considered when estimating larger carbon fluxes. Partitioning of respiration between autotrophic and heterotrophic respiration, and applying these scaled respiratory fluxes to the ecosystem‐level proves to be difficult, and the integration of light inhibition into single and continuous measures of ecosystem respiration will require new interpretations and analysis of carbon exchange in terrestrial ecosystems.

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