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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Management Practices to Mitigate Global Climate Change, Enhance Bio-Energy Production, Increase Soil-C Stocks & Sustain Soil Productivity...

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Title: Warming and elevated CO2 lead to longer growing season in temperate grassland)

Author
item Reyes-fox, Melissa
item Steltzer, Heidi
item Trlica, Milton
item Mcmaster, Gregory - Greg
item Andales, Allan
item Lecain, Daniel
item Morgan, Jack

Submitted to: Nature
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/14/2014
Publication Date: 6/12/2014
Citation: Reyes-Fox, M.A., Steltzer, H., Trlica, M., Mcmaster, G.S., Andales, A., Lecain, D.R., Morgan, J.A. 2014. Warming and elevated CO2 lead to longer growing season in temperate grassland. Nature. 510:259-269. DOI:10.1038/nature13207.

Interpretive Summary: As climate warms and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations increase, plant species’ life history events will be affected. These changes may alter the timing and duration of the growing season and reproductive season for the plant community affecting ecosystem services. Over five years in a climate warming and elevated CO2 experiment, four life history events were monitored for six abundant species in a temperate, semi-arid grassland ecosystem. Although warmer temperatures alone and in combination with elevated CO2 often led to earlier leaf emergence and shorter life cycle for the first species to leaf (a cool-season grass), later senescence due to elevated CO2 had a greater effect on extending season length in the warmed ecosystem for a small shrub, which lived longer. Warming also lengthened the reproductive season. Elevated CO2 further extended growing length, but not reproductive season length, in the warmed grassland by conserving water, thereby delaying canopy senescence. Longer growing seasons are likely due to climate warming and concomitant CO2 enrichment, which enable some plant species to live longer.

Technical Abstract: Observational data over time suggest that as climate has warmed the growing season has lengthened, although experimental warming shortens early-growing species’ life cycles. Are other plant species living longer? We found that experimental warming in a temperate, semi-arid grassland led to earlier leaf emergence and shorter life cycle for the first species to leaf, a cool-season grass. A longer growing season resulted from the grass’s earlier leaf emergence and constant or delayed leaf loss by the last species to senesce, often a small shrub, which lived longer. Warming also lengthened the reproductive season. Elevated CO2 further extended growing but not reproductive season length in the warmed grassland by conserving water, delaying canopy senescence. Longer growing seasons are likely due to climate warming and higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations, which enable some plant species to live longer.

Last Modified: 8/24/2016
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