Chinese researchers recently found that the warming effects on plant aboveground biomass (AGB) varied with annual precipitation.
Researchers from the Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) conducted a 9-year warming experiment (2010-2018) to examine how climate warming and its interaction with the soil water condition impacted the temporal stability of plant community AGB of alpine meadow in the central of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP).
Ecosystem stability characterizes ecosystem responses to natural and anthropogenic disturbance and affects the feedback between ecosystem and climate. The rising temperature will result in the high variability of ecosystem productivity, which will also depend on the water availability.
The ecosystem on the QTP is sensitive to the climate warming due to its low temperature and latitude. However, it is unclear that how the stability of ecosystem productivity of alpine meadow responds to climate warming.
In this study, the researchers found that AGB percentage of grasses and forbs significantly increased but that of sedges decreased regardless of the soil water availability in the experimental plots under a warming environment.
Under dry conditions, AGB showed no significant change under warming in the normal and relatively wet years, but it significantly decreased in relatively drought years (13% in 2013 and 10% in 2015).
Under wet conditions, AGB showed no significant change under warming in the normal and relatively drought years, while it significantly increased in relatively wet years (11% in 2017 and 14% in 2018).
The research showed that warming significantly decreased the temporal stability of plant community and sedges AGB. Species richness remained stable even under the warming treatment in both the dry and wet conditions.
The temporal stability of AGB of sedges (dominant plant functional group) explained 52.95% variance of the temporal stability of plant community AGB. These above results indicate that plant biomass is more sensitive to the annual precipitation variation in a warmer climate.
These findings highlight that the temporal stability of plant community AGB is largely regulated by the dominant plant functional group of alpine meadow in which species diversity is relatively low.
This study has been published in Frontiers in Plant Science in an article entitled "Dominant Plant Functional Group Determine the Response of the Temporal Stability of Plant Community Biomass to 9-Year Warming on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau".
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