Winter climate change in plant–soil systems: summary of recent findings and future perspectives
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- Makoto, K., Kajimoto, T., Koyama, L. et al. Ecol Res (2014) 29: 593. doi:10.1007/s11284-013-1115-0
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The winter climate is changing in many parts of the world, and it is predicted that winter climate change will modify the structure and function of plant–soil systems. An understanding of these changes and their consequences in terrestrial ecosystems requires knowledge of the linkage between above- and below-ground components as well as the species interactions found in plant–soil systems, which have important implications for biogeochemical cycles. However, winter climate-change studies have focused on only a part of the ecosystem or ecological process. We summarize here recent findings related to the effects of winter climate and its changes on soil nitrogen (N) dynamics, greenhouse gas (N2O) emissions from the soil, N use by individual plants, vegetation development, and interactions between vegetation and pollinators to generate an integrative understanding of the response of the plant–soil system to winter climate change. This review indicates that the net effects on plants, soil microbes, pollinators, and the associated biogeochemical cycles are balanced among several processes and are highly variable depending on the context, such as the target species/functional group, original winter condition of the habitat, and type of climate change. The consequences of winter climate change for species interactions among plants, associated animals, and biogeochemical cycles are largely unknown. For further research, a large-scale comparative study to measure ecosystem-level functions is important, especially in less-cold ecosystems.