Articles | Volume 9, issue 8
Reviews and syntheses
13 Aug 2012
Reviews and syntheses |  | 13 Aug 2012

Progress and challenges in using stable isotopes to trace plant carbon and water relations across scales

C. Werner, H. Schnyder, M. Cuntz, C. Keitel, M. J. Zeeman, T. E. Dawson, F.-W. Badeck, E. Brugnoli, J. Ghashghaie, T. E. E. Grams, Z. E. Kayler, M. Lakatos, X. Lee, C. Máguas, J. Ogée, K. G. Rascher, R. T. W. Siegwolf, S. Unger, J. Welker, L. Wingate, and A. Gessler

Abstract. Stable isotope analysis is a powerful tool for assessing plant carbon and water relations and their impact on biogeochemical processes at different scales. Our process-based understanding of stable isotope signals, as well as technological developments, has progressed significantly, opening new frontiers in ecological and interdisciplinary research. This has promoted the broad utilisation of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen isotope applications to gain insight into plant carbon and water cycling and their interaction with the atmosphere and pedosphere. Here, we highlight specific areas of recent progress and new research challenges in plant carbon and water relations, using selected examples covering scales from the leaf to the regional scale. Further, we discuss strengths and limitations of recent technological developments and approaches and highlight new opportunities arising from unprecedented temporal and spatial resolution of stable isotope measurements.

Final-revised paper