, Volume 174, Issue 3, pp 1045-1054
Date: 17 Nov 2013

Consistent proportional increments in responses of belowground net primary productivity to long-term warming and clipping at various soil depths in a tallgrass prairie

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Root distribution patterns in soil are critical to understanding the interactions between climate and vegetation. However, it is not clear how climate change and land use practices affect belowground net primary productivity (BNPP) at various soil depths. In order to explore the effects of warming and clipping on root-distribution patterns along soil profile (0–15, 15–30, and 30–45 cm), we conducted a field experiment from 2005 to 2010 in a tallgrass prairie. We used infrared heaters to elevate soil temperature by approximately 2 °C and annual clipping to mimic hay harvest. Results showed that roots were not evenly distributed through the soil profile. On average across treatments and years, 53 and 83 % of the BNPP to 45 cm was distributed in the top 15- and 30-cm soil layers, respectively. Warming- and clipping-induced increases in BNPP were distributed to different soil depths at the proportions similar to those of BNPP. The proportional distribution of BNPP at various soil depths to total BNPP (0–45 cm) was little affected by warming, clipping, and their interactions, resulting in non-significant changes in the distribution of BNPP through the soil profile. These findings suggest that the proportionally vertical distribution of BNPP may remain stable even when the amount of BNPP changes simultaneously in response to climate change and land use practices.