U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Elevated CO2 Suppresses Dominant Plant Species in a Mixed-Grass Prairie
Published: October 13, 2014
Posted: January 22, 2015

Climate controls vegetation distribution across the globe, with some vegetation types being more vulnerable to climate change and others more resistant. Because resistance and resilience can influence ecosystem stability and determine how communities and ecosystems respond to climate change, it is important to evaluate the potential for resistance in future ecosystem function. In a mixed-grass prairie in the northern Great Plains, researchers utilized a large field experiment to test the effects of elevated CO2, warming, and summer irrigation on plant community structure and productivity. This study sought to understand changes to both stability in plant community composition and biomass production. The researchers found that the independent effects of CO2 and warming on community composition and productivity depend on interannual variation in precipitation and that the effects of elevated CO2 are not limited to water saving because they differ from those of irrigation. They also show that production in this mixed-grass prairie ecosystem is not only relatively resistant to interannual variation in precipitation, but also rendered more stable under elevated CO2 conditions. This increase in production stability is the result of altered community dominance patterns: Community evenness increases as dominant species decrease in biomass under elevated CO2. In many grasslands that serve as rangelands, the economic value of the ecosystem is largely dependent on plant community composition and the relative abundance of key forage species. These results have implications for how native grasslands are managed in the face of changing climate.

Reference: Zelikova, T. J., D. M. Blumenthal, D. G. Williams, L. Souza, D. R. LeCain, J. Morgan, and E. Pendall. 2014. “Long-Term Exposure to Elevated CO2 Enhances Plant Community Stability by Suppressing Dominant Plant Species in a Mixed-Grass Prairie,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 111(43), 15,456-461. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1414659111. (Reference link)

Contact: Mike Kuperberg, SC-23.1, (301) 903-3281, Daniel Stover, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0289
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Terrestrial Ecosystem Science
  • Research Area: Carbon Cycle, Nutrient Cycling

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)