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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: GLOBAL CHANGE IN SEMI-ARID RANGELANDS: ECOSYSTEM RESPONSES AND MANAGEMENT ADAPTATIONS

Location: Rangeland Resources Research

Title: Elevated CO2 does not offset greater water stress predicted under climate change for native and exotic riparian plants

Authors
item Perry, Laura -
item Shafroth, Patrick -
item Blumenthal, Dana
item Morgan, Jack
item Lecain, Daniel

Submitted to: New Phytologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 25, 2012
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Citation: Perry, L.G., Shafroth, P.P., Blumenthal, D.M., Morgan, J.A., Lecain, D.R. 2013. Elevated CO2 does not offset greater water stress predicted under climate change for native and exotic riparian plants. New Phytologist. 197:532-543.

Interpretive Summary: In western North American riparian (riverside) ecosystems, increased drought and lower streamflows under climate change may favor drought-tolerant exotic species over native species. We tested whether elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) might offset these effects by improving plant water use efficiency. We examined effects of CO2 and water availability on seedlings of five native and exotic western North American riparian species in a CO2-controlled greenhouse. Low water availability reduced seedling growth by 70-97%, and hindered the native species more than the exotics. Elevated CO2 increased biomass by 15%, with similar effects on natives and exotics and across water treatments. The moderate positive effects of elevated CO2 on riparian seedlings are unlikely to counteract the large negative effects of increased aridity projected under climate change.

Technical Abstract: In semiarid western North American riparian ecosystems, increased drought and lower streamflows under climate change may reduce plant growth and recruitment, and favor drought-tolerant exotic species over mesic native species. We tested whether elevated atmospheric CO2 might ameliorate these effects by improving plant water use efficiency. We examined effects of CO2 and water availability on seedlings of five native and exotic western North American riparian species (Elaeagnus angustifolia, Populus deltoides spp. monilifera, Salix exigua, Tamarix sp., Ulmus pumila) in a CO2-controlled greenhouse, using 1-m deep pots with different water-table decline rates. Low water availability reduced seedling biomass by 70-97%, and hindered the native species more than the exotics. Elevated CO2 increased biomass by 15%, with similar effects on natives and exotics. Elevated CO2 increased intrinsic water use efficiency ('13Cleaf), but did not increase biomass more in drier treatments than wetter treatments. The moderate positive effects of elevated CO2 on riparian seedlings are unlikely to counteract the large negative effects of increased aridity projected under climate change. Instead, increased aridity may reduce riparian seedling growth despite elevated CO2, particularly for native Salix and Populus species and less for drought-tolerant exotics (Tamarix sp., Elaeagnus angustifolia and Ulmus pumila).

Last Modified: 12/17/2014
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