Climatic controls of aboveground net primary production in semi-arid grasslands along a latitudinal gradient portend low sensitivity to warming

Whitney Mowll, Dana M Blumenthal, Karie Cherwin, Anine Smith, Amy J Symstad, Lance T Vermeire, Scott L Collins, Melinda D Smith, Alan K Knapp
Oecologia 2015, 177 (4): 959-69
Although climate models forecast warmer temperatures with a high degree of certainty, precipitation is the primary driver of aboveground net primary production (ANPP) in most grasslands. Conversely, variations in temperature seldom are related to patterns of ANPP. Thus forecasting responses to warming is a challenge, and raises the question: how sensitive will grassland ANPP be to warming? We evaluated climate and multi-year ANPP data (67 years) from eight western US grasslands arrayed along mean annual temperature (MAT; ~7-14 °C) and mean annual precipitation (MAP; ~250-500 mm) gradients. We used regression and analysis of covariance to assess relationships between ANPP and temperature, as well as precipitation (annual and growing season) to evaluate temperature sensitivity of ANPP. We also related ANPP to the standardized precipitation evaporation index (SPEI), which combines precipitation and evapotranspiration to better represent moisture available for plant growth. Regression models indicated that variation in growing season temperature was negatively related to total and graminoid ANPP, but precipitation was a stronger predictor than temperature. Growing season temperature was also a significant parameter in more complex models, but again precipitation was consistently a stronger predictor of ANPP. Surprisingly, neither annual nor growing season SPEI were as strongly related to ANPP as precipitation. We conclude that forecasted warming likely will affect ANPP in these grasslands, but that predicting temperature effects from natural climatic gradients is difficult. This is because, unlike precipitation, warming effects can be positive or negative and moderated by shifts in the C3/C4 ratios of plant communities.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"