Multiple global change drivers show independent, not interactive effects: a long-term case study in tallgrass prairie

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Sally E. Koerner, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Ecosystems are faced with an onslaught of co-occurring global change drivers. While frequently studied independently, the effects of multiple global change drivers have the potential to be additive, antagonistic, or synergistic. Global warming, for example, may intensify the effects of more variable precipitation regimes with warmer temperatures increasing evapotranspiration and thereby amplifying the effect of already dry soils. Here, we present the long-term effects (11 years) of altered precipitation patterns (increased intra-annual variability in the growing season) and warming (1 °C year-round) on plant community composition and aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP), a key measure of ecosystem functioning in mesic tallgrass prairie. Based on past results, we expected that increased precipitation variability and warming would have additive effects on both community composition and ANPP. Increased precipitation variability altered plant community composition and increased richness, with no effect on ANPP. In contrast, warming decreased ANPP via reduction in grass stems and biomass but had no effect on the plant community. Contrary to expectations, across all measured variables, precipitation and warming treatments had no interactive effects. While treatment interactions did not occur, each treatment did individually impact a different component of the ecosystem (i.e., community vs. function). Thus, different aspects of the ecosystem may be sensitive to different global change drivers in mesic grassland ecosystems.

Additional Information

Oecologia, 201(1)
Language: English
Date: 2022
Altered precipitation, Annual net primary production (ANPP), Compound global change drivers, Plant community, Warming

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