COSIWAX - Compound Specific Hydrogen Isotope Analyses of Leaf Wax n-Alkanes as a Novel Tool to Assess Plant and Ecosystem Water Relations Across new Spatial and Temporal Scales

Forschungsleitung

Ansgar Kahmen

Forschungsteam

Daniel B. Nelson

Finanzierung durch

Commission of the European Union

Zeitraum

Beginn: 01. Oct 2012
Ende: 30. Sep 2017

URL

Homepage des Projektes

Projektbeschreibung

Leaf wax n-alkanes are long-chained lipids that are vital components of plant cuticles. What makes leaf wax n-alkanes unique is that their stable hydrogen isotope composition (δ2H) contains information on precipitation and plant water relations. In addition, leaf wax n-alkanes are abundant in leaves, soils, sediments and even the atmosphere and can persist with their δ2H values over millions of years. With this exceptional combination of properties, leaf wax n-alkanes and their δ2H values are now being celebrated as the much-needed ecohydrological proxy. Despite the enormous potential that leaf wax n-alkanes have as ecohydrological proxy, the exact type of hydrological information that is recorded in the δ2H values of leaf wax n-alkanes remains still unclear. This is because critical mechanisms that determine the δ2H values of leaf wax n-alkanes are not understood.

This project will perform the experimental work that is now needed to resolve the key mechanisms that determine the δ2H values leaf wax n-alkanes. These experiments will set the basis to develop a new numerical model that will allow to ultimately test the exact hydrological signal that leaf wax n-alkanes record in their δ2H values: Is it a mere hydrological signal reflecting the amount or origin of precipitation or a plant-shaped signal indicating plant water relations such as evapotranspiration? Building on this new model, COSIWAX will set out to test the potential that leaf wax n-alkane δ2H values hold as new ecohydrological proxy for ecology and ecosystem sciences. If successful, COSIWAX will establish with this research leaf wax n-alkanes δ2H values as an innovative ecohydrological proxy that has extensive possible applications in paleoclimatology, ecology, earth system sciences.

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