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Mountain streams provide important habitats for many species, but their faunas are especially vulnerable to climate change because of ectothermic physiologies and movements that are constrained to linear networks that are easily fragmented. Effectively conserving biodiversity in these systems requires accurate downscaling of climatic trends to local habitat conditions, but downscaling is difficult in complex terrains given diverse microclimates and mediation of stream heat budgets by local conditions. We compiled a stream temperature database (n = 780) for a 2500-km river network in central Idaho to assess possible trends in summer temperatures and thermal habitat for two native salmonid species from 1993 to 2006....
• Theoretical and empirical research has supported the hypothesis that plant–plant interactions change from competition to facilitation with increasing abiotic stress. However, the consistency of such changes has been questioned in arid and semiarid ecosystems. • During a drought in the semiarid south-western USA, we used observations and a field experiment to examine the interactions between juveniles of a foundation tree (Pinyon pine, Pinus edulis ) and a common shrub (Apache plume, Fallugia paradoxa ) in replicated areas of high and low stress. • The presence of F. paradoxa reduced P. edulis performance at low-stress sites, but had the opposite effect at high-stress sites. However, the intensity of the...
One of the major concerns about global warming is the potential for an increase in decomposition and soil respiration rates, increasing CO2 emissions and creating a positive feedback between global warming and soil respiration. This is particularly important in ecosystems with large belowground biomass, such as grasslands where over 90% of the carbon is allocated belowground. A better understanding of the relative influence of climate and litter quality on litter decomposition is needed to predict these changes accurately in grasslands. The Long-Term Intersite Decomposition Experiment Team (LIDET) dataset was used to evaluate the influence of climatic variables (temperature, precipitation, actual evapotranspiration,...
Gas exchange and water relations responses to warming were compared for two shrub species, Artemisia tridentata spp. vaseyana (Asteraceae), a widely distributed evergreen species of the Great Basin and the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, and Pentaphylloides floribunda (Rosaceae), a deciduous shrub limited in distribution to moist, high-elevation meadows. Plants were exposed to an in situ infrared (IR) climate change manipulation at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, near Crested Butte, CO. Measurements of gas exchange and water relations were made on the two species in July and August, 1993 from plants growing in situ in infrared-heated and control plots. Carbon dioxide uptake, water loss, leaf temperature,...
A warming climate influences boreal forest productivity, dynamics, and disturbance regimes. We used ecosystem models and 250 m satellite Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data averaged over the growing season (GSN) to model current, and estimate future, ecosystem performance. We modeled Expected Ecosystem Performance (EEP), or anticipated productivity, in undisturbed stands over the 2000–2008 period from a variety of abiotic data sources, using a rule-based piecewise regression tree. The EEP model was applied to a future climate ensemble A1B projection to quantify expected changes to mature boreal forest performance. Ecosystem Performance Anomalies (EPA), were identified as the residuals of the EEP and...
Temperate and boreal forest ecosystems contain a large part of the carbon stored on land, in the form of both biomass and soil organic matter. Increasing atmospheric [CO2], increasing temperature, elevated nitrogen deposition and intensified management will change this C store. Well documented single-factor responses of net primary production are: higher photosynthetic rate (the main [CO2] response); increasing length of growing season (the main temperature response); and higher leaf-area index (the main N deposition and partly [CO2] response). Soil organic matter will increase with increasing litter input, although priming may decrease the soil C stock initially, but litter quality effects should be minimal (response...
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We investigated the effects of winter and summer drought on a shrub/grass community of the Colorado Plateau in western North America, a winter-cold, summer-hot desert that receives both winter and summer precipitation. Summer, winter and yearlong drought treatments were imposed for 2 consecutive years using rainout shelters. We chose three perennial species for this study, representing different rooting patterns and responsiveness to precipitation pulses: Oryzopsis hymenoides, a perennial bunch grass with shallow roots; Gutierrezia sarothrae, a subshrub with dimorphic roots; and Ceratoides lanata, a predominantly deep-rooted woody shrub. Growth for all three species was far more sensitive to winter than to summer...
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The importance of efficaciously assessing the risk for introduction and establishment of pest species is an increasingly important ecological and economic issue. Evaluation of climate is fundamental to determining the potential success of an introduced or invasive insect pest. However, evaluating climatic suitability poses substantial difficulties; climate can be measured and assessed in a bewildering array of ways. Some physiological filter, in essence a lens that focuses climate through the requirements and constraints of a potential pest introduction, is required. Difficulties in assessing climate suitability are further exacerbated by the effects of climate change. Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar L.) is an exotic,...
Pathogens and herbivores can severely reduce host fitness, potentially leading to altered succession rates and changes in plant community composition. Thus, to predict vegetation dynamics under climate change, it is necessary to understand how plant pathogens and herbivores will respond. Pathogens and herbivores are predicted to increase under climate warming because the amount of time available for growth and reproduction will increase. To test this prediction, we used a warming experiment in which heaters were suspended over a natural montane meadow for 12 years. In the summer of 2002, we quantified damage by all the observable (aboveground) pathogens and herbivores on six of the most common plant species (Artemisia...
Climate change models envision an increase in summer precipitation in eastern California and adjacent arid regions by 2050, due to anthropogenic activities. Changes in the frequency, intensity and spatial patterns of rainfall pulses are likely to influence seedling recruitment and establishment, and ultimately community composition and dynamics. The effects of altered water availability might be complicated by the effect of adult plants on resources and conditions, potentially altering seedling recruitment success and affecting community succession. We tested the hypotheses that: (1) an experimental pulse representing a 25% increase in summer precipitation would increase photosynthesis for Artemisia tridentata and...
As global climate change affects recharge and runoff processes, stream flow regimes are being altered. In the American Southwest, increasing aridity is predicted to cause declines in stream base flows and water tables. Another potential outcome of climate change is increased flood intensity. Changes in these stream flow conditions may independently affect vegetation or may have synergistic effects. Our goal was to extrapolate vegetation response to climate-linked stream flow changes, by taking advantage of the spatial variation in flow conditions over a 200 km length of the San Pedro River (Arizona). Riparian vegetation traits were contrasted between sites differing in low-flow hydrology (degree of stream intermittency)...
As the earth becomes a quilt of managed patches, ecohydrologists need to move from describing to predicting the consequences of human activities, using knowledge to improve human well-being. We highlight three current opportunities in ecohydrology. The first is the need for stronger research in arid and semi-arid ecosystems, where water is scarce and a tight coupling exists between hydrology and ecology. The second is to build better predictive frameworks for understanding the consequences of vegetation change. The new framework we propose here combines landscape connectivity, through recharge and discharge dynamics, with global climate. In systems where annual precipitation and evapotranspiration are similar, the...
The impact of climate variability on the water cycle in desert ecosystems is controlled by biospheric feedback at interannual to millennial timescales. This paper describes a unique field dataset from weighing lysimeters beneath nonvegetated and vegetated systems that unequivocally demonstrates the role of vegetation dynamics in controlling water cycle response to interannual climate variability related to El Nin˜ o southern oscillation in the Mojave Desert. Extreme El Nin˜ o winter precipitation (2.3–2.5 times normal) typical of the U.S. Southwest would be expected to increase groundwater recharge, which is critical for water resources in semiarid and arid regions. However, lysimeter data indicate that rapid...
A key feature of anticipated 21st century droughts in Southwest North America is the concurrence of elevated temperatures and increased aridity. Instrumental records and paleoclimatic evidence for past prolonged drought in the Southwest that coincide with elevated temperatures can be assessed to provide insights on temperature-drought relations and to develop worst-case scenarios for the future. In particular, during the medieval period, ∼AD 900-1300, the Northern Hemisphere experienced temperatures warmer than all but the most recent decades. Paleoclimatic and model data indicate increased temperatures in western North America of approximately 1 °C over the long-term mean. This was a period of extensive...
The rate of future climate change is likely to exceed the migration rates of most plant species. The replacement of dominant species by locally rare species may require decades, and extinctions may occur when plant species cannot migrate fast enough to escape the consequences of climate change. Such lags may impair ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration and clean water production. Thus, to assess global change, simulation of plant migration and local vegetation change by dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs) is critical, yet fraught with challenges. Global vegetation models cannot simulate all species, necessitating their aggregation into plant functional types (PFTs). Yet most PFTs encompass the full...
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We investigated the effects of winter and summer drought on plants of the Colorado Plateau in western North America. This winter-cold, summer-hot desert region receives both winter and summer precipitation. Droughts were imposed for two consecutive years using rainout shelters. Here, we examine drought effects on the hydrologic interactions between plants and soil. We chose three perennial species for this study, representing different rooting patterns and responsiveness to precipitation pulses: Oryzopsis hymenoides, a perennial bunch grass with shallow roots; Gutierrezia sarothrae, a subshrub with dimorphic roots; and Ceratoides lanata, a predominantly deep-rooted woody shrub. Drought effects on plant water status...
Interactions between climate change and non-native invasive species may combine to increase invasion risk to native ecosystems. Changing climate creates risk as new terrain becomes climatically suitable for invasion. However, climate change may also create opportunities for ecosystem restoration on invaded lands that become climatically unsuitable for invasive species. Here, I develop a bioclimatic envelope model for cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), a non-native invasive grass in the western US, based on its invaded distribution. The bioclimatic envelope model is based on the Mahalanobis distance using the climate variables that best constrain the species distribution. Of the precipitation and temperature variables...
Climate models robustly predict that the climate of southwestern North America, defined as the area from the western Great Plains to the Pacific Ocean and from the Oregon border to southern Mexico, will dry throughout the current century as a consequence of rising greenhouse gases. This regional drying is part of a general drying of the subtropics and poleward expansion of the subtropical dry zones. Through an analysis of 15 coupled climate models it is shown here that the drying is driven by a reduction of winter season precipitation associated with increased moisture divergence by the mean flow and reduced moisture convergence by transient eddies. Due to the presence of large amplitude decadal variations of presumed...
This study investigated how CO2and temperature affect dry weight (d.wt) accumulation, total nonstructural carbohydrate (TNC) concentration, and partitioning of C and N among organs of two important grasses of the shortgrass steppe,Pascopyrum smithii Rydb. (C3) andBouteloua gracilis(H.B.K.) Lag. ex Steud. (C4). Treatment combinations comprised two temperatures (20 and 35�C) at two concentrations of CO2(380 and 750 ?mol mol-1), and two additional temperatures of 25 and 30�C at 750 ?mol mol-1CO2. Plants were maintained under favourable nutrient and soil moisture and harvested following 21, 35, and 49d of treatment. CO2-induced growth enhancements were greatest at temperatures considered favourable for growth of these...
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Biological soil crusts are an integral part of dryland ecosystems. We monitored the cover of lichens and mosses, cyanobacterial biomass, concentrations of UV-protective pigments in both free-living and lichenized cyanobacteria, and quantum yield in the soil lichen species Collema in an undisturbed Mojave Desert shrubland. During our sampling time, the site received historically high and low levels of precipitation, whereas temperatures were close to normal. Lichen cover, dominated by Collema tenax and C. coccophorum, and moss cover, dominated by Syntrichia caninervis, responded to both increases and decreases in precipitation. This finding for Collema spp. at a hot Mojave Desert site is in contrast to a similar...


map background search result map search result map Dynamics of cover, UV-protective pigments, and quantum yield in biological soil crust communities of an undisturbed Mojave Desert shrubland Risk assessment in the face of a changing environment: gypsy moth and climate change in Utah. Summer and winter drought in a cold desert ecosystem (Colorado Plateau) part I: effects on soil water and plant water uptake Summer and winter drought in a cold desert ecosystem (Colorado Plateau) part II: effects on plant carbon assimilation and growth Summer and winter drought in a cold desert ecosystem (Colorado Plateau) part I: effects on soil water and plant water uptake Summer and winter drought in a cold desert ecosystem (Colorado Plateau) part II: effects on plant carbon assimilation and growth Dynamics of cover, UV-protective pigments, and quantum yield in biological soil crust communities of an undisturbed Mojave Desert shrubland Risk assessment in the face of a changing environment: gypsy moth and climate change in Utah.