, Volume 371, Issue 1-2, pp 409-421
Date: 07 Apr 2013

Net ecosystem CO2 exchange and plant biomass responses to warming and N addition in a grass-dominated system during two years of net CO2 efflux

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Abstract

Background and Aims

Climate warming and increased atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition both have the potential to increase plant productivity over the next century, yet they can also increase decomposition and respiration. Our aim was to examine the extent to which warming and N addition can, on balance, alter net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) in a grass-dominated system.

Methods

We measured NEE responses to warming and N addition over two growing seasons in a temperate old field using steady-state flow-through chambers, which allowed for the integrated measurement of respiration and photoassimilation effects on net CO2 flux over diel periods. We also assessed the relationship between NEE and plant biomass responses to the warming and N treatments.

Results

In both years, our study system was a net source of carbon (C) during the snow-free season. N addition did not significantly affect diel NEE or dark respiration in either year, despite a doubling in aboveground plant biomass in response to N addition in the second year, and a corresponding increase in peak daily net CO2 photoassimilation in N addition plots. The warming treatment also had no significant effect on NEE, although the flow-through chambers required warming to be temporarily halted during NEE measurements.

Conclusions

Overall, our results both highlight the potential divergence of plant and soil responses to N addition and demonstrate the capacity for a grass-dominated system to function as a net source of C in consecutive years.

Responsible Editor: Kees Jan van Groenigen.