Theme 5: Drought--Oral Sessions

Description

Grasslands cover a major part of the global terrestrial area and provide important ecosystem functions such as sequestration of carbon (C). Desert steppes are unique ecosystems with properties in between desert and grasslands. They are considered to be vulnerable ecosystems that are at risk of desertification due to global change. To provide a robust prediction of the effect of climate warming and increased nitrogen (N) deposition on desert steppe, long-term studies that capture the annual variation in precipitation are needed. We conducted a 12-year field experiment in a desert steppe which showed that warming did not change ecosystem C exchange whereas N addition increased ecosystem C storage. Moreover, warming did not change total aboveground biomass, mainly due to the contrasting responses of C4 and C3 plants, especially in the presence of additional N. Therefore, our study predicts that warming do not necessarily lead to degradation of the desert steppe and N addition may have a positive effect on CO2 sequestration, providing a negative feedback on climate change. However, these global change drivers do alter vegetation composition in the desert steppe, which can have consequences on a diversity of ecosystem functions.

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Long-Term N Addition, Not Warming, Increases Net Ecosystem CO2 Exchange in a Desert Steppe in Northern China

Grasslands cover a major part of the global terrestrial area and provide important ecosystem functions such as sequestration of carbon (C). Desert steppes are unique ecosystems with properties in between desert and grasslands. They are considered to be vulnerable ecosystems that are at risk of desertification due to global change. To provide a robust prediction of the effect of climate warming and increased nitrogen (N) deposition on desert steppe, long-term studies that capture the annual variation in precipitation are needed. We conducted a 12-year field experiment in a desert steppe which showed that warming did not change ecosystem C exchange whereas N addition increased ecosystem C storage. Moreover, warming did not change total aboveground biomass, mainly due to the contrasting responses of C4 and C3 plants, especially in the presence of additional N. Therefore, our study predicts that warming do not necessarily lead to degradation of the desert steppe and N addition may have a positive effect on CO2 sequestration, providing a negative feedback on climate change. However, these global change drivers do alter vegetation composition in the desert steppe, which can have consequences on a diversity of ecosystem functions.