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Scaling and partitioning are frequently two difficult challenges facing ecology today. With regard to ecosystem carbon balance studies, ecologists and atmospheric scientists are often interested in asking how fluxes of carbon dioxide scale across the landscape, region and continent. Yet at the same time, physiological ecologists and ecosystem ecologists are interested in dissecting the net ecosystem CO2 exchange between the biosphere and the atmosphere to achieve a better understanding of the balance between photosynthesis and respiration within a forest. in both of these multiple-scale ecological questions, stable isotope analyses of carbon dioxide can play a central role in influencing our understanding of the extent to which terrestrial ecosystems are carbon sinks. In this synthesis, we review the theory and present field evidence to address isotopic scaling of CO2 fluxes. We first show that the C-13 isotopic signal which ecosystems impart to the atmosphere does not remain constant over time at either temporal or spatial scales. The relative balances of different biological activities and plant responses to stress result in dynamic changes in the C-13 isotopic exchange between the biosphere and atmosphere, with both seasonal and stand-age factors playing major roles influencing the C-13 biosphere-atmosphere exchange. We then examine how stable isotopes are used to partition net ecosystem exchange fluxes in order to calculate shifts in the balance of photosynthesis and respiration. Lastly, we explore how fundamental differences in the O-18 isotopic gas exchange of forest and grassland ecosystems can be used to further partition terrestrial fluxes

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