Ecosystems

, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 367–382

Effects of Plant Growth Characteristics on Biogeochemistry and Community Composition in a Changing Climate

  • Darrell A.  Herbert
  • Edward B.  Rastetter
  • Gaius R.  Shaver
  • Göran I.  Ågren

DOI: 10.1007/s100219900086

Cite this article as:
Herbert, D., Rastetter, E., Shaver, G. et al. Ecosystems (1999) 2: 367. doi:10.1007/s100219900086

ABSTRACT

Vegetation growth characteristics influence ecosystem biogeochemistry and must be incorporated in models used to project biogeochemical responses to climate variations. We used a multiple-element limitation model (MEL) to examine how variations in nutrient use efficiency (NUE) and net primary production to biomass ratio (nPBR) affect changes in ecosystem C stocks after an increase in temperature and atmospheric CO2. nPBR influences the initial rates of response, but the magnitude and direction of long-term responses are determined by NUE. MEL was used to simulate responses to climate change in communities composed of two species differing in nPBR and/or NUE. When only nPBR differed between the species, the high-nPBR species outgrew the low-nPBR species early in the simulations, but the shift in dominance was transitory because of secondary N limitations. High-NUE species were less affected by secondary N limitations and were therefore favored under elevated CO2. Increased temperature stimulated N release from soil organic matter (SOM) and therefore favored low-NUE species. The combined release from C and N limitation under the combination of increased temperature and elevated CO2 favored high-NUE species. High C:N litter from high-NUE species limited the N-supply rate from SOM, which favors the dominance of the high-NUE species in the short term. However, in the long term increased litter production resulted in SOM accumulation, which reestablished a N supply rate favorable to the reestablishment and dominance of the low-NUE species. Conditions then reverted to a state favorable to the high-NUE species.

Key words: multiple-element limitation (MEL); biogeochemical model; climate change; plant competition; carbon–nitrogen interactions; nutrient use efficiency; relative growth rate; temperature; CO2.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Darrell A.  Herbert
    • 1
  • Edward B.  Rastetter
    • 1
  • Gaius R.  Shaver
    • 1
  • Göran I.  Ågren
    • 2
  1. 1.The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA US
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Environmental Research, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7072, S-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden SE