Effects of warming on the structure and function of a boreal black spruce forest
Effects of warming on the structure and function of a boreal black spruce forest A strong argument can be made that there is a greater need to study the effect of warming on boreal forests more than on any other terrestrial biome. Boreal forests, the second largest forest biome, are predicted to experience the greatest warming of any forest biome in the world, but a process-based understanding of how warming will affect the structure and function of this economically and ecologically important forest biome is lacking. The effects of warming on species composition, canopy structure and biogeochemical cycles are likely to be complex; elucidating the underlying mechanisms will require long-term whole-ecosystem manipulation to capture all the complex feedbacks (Shaver et al. 2000, Rustad et al. 2001, Stromgren 2001). The DOE Program for Ecosystem Research funded a three year project (2002-2005) to use replicated heated chambers on soil warming plots in northern Manitoba to examine the direct effects of whole-ecosystem warming. We are nearing completion of our first growing season of measurements (fall 2004). In spite of the unforeseen difficulty of installing the heating cable, our heating and irrigation systems worked extremely well, maintaining environmental conditions within 5-10% of the specified design 99% of the time. Preliminary data from these systems, all designed and built more »
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