The carbon cycle and its biological and environmental drivers in a semi-arid pine forest

Forests are the main ecosystem types on Earth engaged in carbon sequestration which reduces the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. However, the rate of carbon sequestration, and the environmental and biological factors affecting the rate of this process are not well understood. This is particularly true for forests of the hot and dry areas of the world, despite the potentially large contribution of these vast areas to global CO2 balance. This long-term project led by the Weizmann Institute of Science investigates the potential of carbon sequestration in semi-arid forests, using Yatir forest in the northern Negev as a model. Studies on large stands of Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) assess net ecosystem CO2 production and its main flux components and drivers; leaf-level photosynthesis and transpiration; leaf, trunk and soil respiration; changes in ecosystem carbon and nitrogen stocks following afforestation; carbon-nitrogen-water interrelations. This project provides field data to improve estimates of regional and global carbon budgets, and enhances our understanding of potential future climate effects on forest carbon dynamics.


Gelfand I, Grünzweig JM, Yakir D. 2012. Slowing of nitrogen cycling and increasing nitrogen use efficiency following afforestation of semi-arid shrubland. Oecologia 168, 563-575..

Sprintsin M, Cohen S, Maseyk K, Rotenberg E, Grünzweig JM, Karnieli A, Berliner P, Yakir D. 2011. Long term and seasonal courses of leaf area index in a semi-arid forest plantation. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 151, 565-574.

Grünzweig JM, Hemming D, Maseyk K, Lin T, Rotenberg E, Raz-Yaseef N, Falloon PD and Yakir D. 2009. Water limitation to soil CO2 efflux in a pine forest at the semi-arid ‘timberline’. Journal of Geophysical Research 114, G03008.

Maseyk KS, Grünzweig JM, Rotenberg E and Yakir D. 2008. Respiration acclimation contributes to high carbon-use efficiency in a seasonally dry pine forest. Global Change Biology 14, 1553-1567.

Maseyk KS, Lin T, Rotenberg E, Grünzweig JM, Schwartz A and Yakir D. 2008. Physiology-phenology interactions in a productive semi-arid pine forest. New Phytologist 178, 603-616.

Grünzweig JM, Gelfand I, Fried Y and Yakir D. 2007. Biogeochemical factors contributing to enhanced carbon storage following afforestation of a semi-arid shrubland. Biogeosciences 4, 891-904.

Grünzweig JM, Lin T, Rotenberg E, Schwartz A and Yakir Y. 2003. Carbon sequestration in arid-land forest. Global Change Biology 9, 791-799.

Dan Yakir, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel