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Title: Shifting plant species composition in response to climate change stabilizes grassland primary production

The structure and function of alpine grassland ecosystems, including their extensive soil carbon stocks, are largely shaped by temperature. The Tibetan Plateau in particular has experienced significant warming over the past 50 y, and this warming trend is projected to intensify in the future. Such climate change will likely alter plant species composition and net primary production (NPP). Here we combined 32 y of observations and monitoring with a manipulative experiment of temperature and precipitation to explore the effects of changing climate on plant community structure and ecosystem function. First, long-term climate warming from 1983 to 2014, which occurred without systematic changes in precipitation, led to higher grass abundance and lower sedge abundance, but did not affect aboveground NPP. Second, an experimental warming experiment conducted over 4 y had no effects on any aspect of NPP, whereas drought manipulation (reducing precipitation by 50%), shifted NPP allocation belowground without affecting total NPP. Third, both experimental warming and drought treatments, supported by a meta-analysis at nine sites across the plateau, increased grass abundance at the expense of biomass of sedges and forbs. This shift in functional group composition led to deeper root systems, which may have enabled plant communities to acquire moremore » water and thus stabilize ecosystem primary production even with a changing climate. Altogether, our study demonstrates that shifting plant species composition in response to climate change may have stabilized primary production in this high-elevation ecosystem, but it also caused a shift from aboveground to belowground productivity.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [1] ;  [4] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [5] ; ORCiD logo [5] ;  [6] ; ORCiD logo [7]
  1. Peking Univ., Beijing (China)
  2. Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing (China). Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology
  3. Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing (China). Northwest Inst. of Plateau Biology
  4. Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing (China). Inst. of Botany
  5. Univ. of Vermont, Burlington, VT (United States); Univ. of Copenhagen (Denmark)
  6. Univ. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN (United States); Western Sydney Univ., South Penrith, New South Wales (Australia)
  7. Peking Univ., Beijing (China); Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing (China). Northwest Inst. of Plateau Biology
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
SC0010562
Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 115; Journal Issue: 16; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
Publisher:
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC (United States)
Research Org:
Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
OSTI Identifier:
1501422

Liu, Huiying, Mi, Zhaorong, Lin, Li, Wang, Yonghui, Zhang, Zhenhua, Zhang, Fawei, Wang, Hao, Liu, Lingli, Zhu, Biao, Cao, Guangmin, Zhao, Xinquan, Sanders, Nathan J., Classen, Aimée T., Reich, Peter B., and He, Jin-Sheng. Shifting plant species composition in response to climate change stabilizes grassland primary production. United States: N. p., Web. doi:10.1073/pnas.1700299114.
Liu, Huiying, Mi, Zhaorong, Lin, Li, Wang, Yonghui, Zhang, Zhenhua, Zhang, Fawei, Wang, Hao, Liu, Lingli, Zhu, Biao, Cao, Guangmin, Zhao, Xinquan, Sanders, Nathan J., Classen, Aimée T., Reich, Peter B., & He, Jin-Sheng. Shifting plant species composition in response to climate change stabilizes grassland primary production. United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1700299114.
Liu, Huiying, Mi, Zhaorong, Lin, Li, Wang, Yonghui, Zhang, Zhenhua, Zhang, Fawei, Wang, Hao, Liu, Lingli, Zhu, Biao, Cao, Guangmin, Zhao, Xinquan, Sanders, Nathan J., Classen, Aimée T., Reich, Peter B., and He, Jin-Sheng. 2018. "Shifting plant species composition in response to climate change stabilizes grassland primary production". United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1700299114. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1501422.
@article{osti_1501422,
title = {Shifting plant species composition in response to climate change stabilizes grassland primary production},
author = {Liu, Huiying and Mi, Zhaorong and Lin, Li and Wang, Yonghui and Zhang, Zhenhua and Zhang, Fawei and Wang, Hao and Liu, Lingli and Zhu, Biao and Cao, Guangmin and Zhao, Xinquan and Sanders, Nathan J. and Classen, Aimée T. and Reich, Peter B. and He, Jin-Sheng},
abstractNote = {The structure and function of alpine grassland ecosystems, including their extensive soil carbon stocks, are largely shaped by temperature. The Tibetan Plateau in particular has experienced significant warming over the past 50 y, and this warming trend is projected to intensify in the future. Such climate change will likely alter plant species composition and net primary production (NPP). Here we combined 32 y of observations and monitoring with a manipulative experiment of temperature and precipitation to explore the effects of changing climate on plant community structure and ecosystem function. First, long-term climate warming from 1983 to 2014, which occurred without systematic changes in precipitation, led to higher grass abundance and lower sedge abundance, but did not affect aboveground NPP. Second, an experimental warming experiment conducted over 4 y had no effects on any aspect of NPP, whereas drought manipulation (reducing precipitation by 50%), shifted NPP allocation belowground without affecting total NPP. Third, both experimental warming and drought treatments, supported by a meta-analysis at nine sites across the plateau, increased grass abundance at the expense of biomass of sedges and forbs. This shift in functional group composition led to deeper root systems, which may have enabled plant communities to acquire more water and thus stabilize ecosystem primary production even with a changing climate. Altogether, our study demonstrates that shifting plant species composition in response to climate change may have stabilized primary production in this high-elevation ecosystem, but it also caused a shift from aboveground to belowground productivity.},
doi = {10.1073/pnas.1700299114},
journal = {Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America},
number = 16,
volume = 115,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {4}
}