Increasing climatic sensitivity of global grassland vegetation biomass and species diversity correlates with water availability

Daijun Liu, Chao Zhang, Romà Ogaya, Marcos Fernández-Martínez, Thomas Pugh, Josep Peñuelas

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Abstract

Grasslands are key repositories of biodiversity and carbon storage and are heavily impacted by effects of global warming and changes in precipitation regimes. Patterns of grassland dynamics associated with variability in future climate conditions across spatiotemporal scales are yet to be adequately quantified. Here, we performed a global meta-analysis of year and growing season sensitivities of vegetation aboveground biomass (AGB), aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP), and species richness (SR) and diversity (Shannon index, H) to experimental climate warming and precipitation shifts. All four variables were sensitive to climate change. Their sensitivities to shifts in precipitation were correlated with local background water availability, such as mean annual precipitation (MAP) and aridity, and AGB and ANPP sensitivities were greater in dry habitats than in nonwater-limited habitats. There was no effect of duration of experiment (short vs long term) on sensitivities. Temporal trends in ANPP and SR sensitivity depended on local water availability; ANPP sensitivity to warming increased over time and SR sensitivity to irrigation decreased over time. Our results provide a global overview of the sensitivities of grassland function and diversity to climate change that will improve the understanding of ecological responses across spatiotemporal scales and inform policies for conservation in dry climates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1761-1771
Number of pages11
JournalNew Phytologist
Volume230
Issue number5
Early online date12 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank all the people who managed and maintained the climate experiments and collected data. Funding for this research was provided by the Spanish government project PID2019-110521GB-I00, Catalan government project SGR2017-1005, European Research Council Synergy grant ERC-2013-SyG-610028 IMBALANCE-P, the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union?s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 758873, TreeMort) and the FWF Austria Science Fund (Lise Meitner Programme M2714-B29). MFM is a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation ? Flanders (FWO). This paper is number 51 of the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research.

Funding Information:
We thank all the people who managed and maintained the climate experiments and collected data. Funding for this research was provided by the Spanish government project PID2019‐110521GB‐I00, Catalan government project SGR2017‐1005, European Research Council Synergy grant ERC‐2013‐SyG‐610028 IMBALANCE‐P, the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 758873, TreeMort) and the FWF Austria Science Fund (Lise Meitner Programme M2714‐B29). MFM is a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO). This paper is number 51 of the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors New Phytologist © 2021 New Phytologist Foundation

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