Advertisement

Oecologia

, Volume 146, Issue 4, pp 595–607 | Cite as

Net carbon exchange and evapotranspiration in postfire and intact sagebrush communities in the Great Basin

  • Margaret R. Prater
  • Daniel Obrist
  • John A. ArnoneIII
  • Evan H. DeLuciaEmail author
Ecosystem Ecology

Abstract

Invasion of non-native annuals across the Intermountain West is causing a widespread transition from perennial sagebrush communities to fire-prone annual herbaceous communities and grasslands. To determine how this invasion affects ecosystem function, carbon and water fluxes were quantified in three, paired sagebrush and adjacent postfire communities in the northern Great Basin using a 1-m3 gas exchange chamber. Most of the plant cover in the postfire communities was invasive species including Bromus tectorum L., Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaertn and Sisymbrium altissimum L. Instantaneous morning net carbon exchange (NCE) and evapotranspiration (ET) in native shrub plots were greater than either intershrub or postfire plots. Native sagebrush communities were net carbon sinks (mean NCE 0.2–4.3 μmol m−2 s−1) throughout the growing season. The magnitude and seasonal variation of NCE in the postfire communities were controlled by the dominant species and availability of soil moisture. Net C exchange in postfire communities dominated by perennial bunchgrasses was similar to sagebrush. However, communities dominated by annuals (cheatgrass and mustard) had significantly lower NCE than sagebrush and became net sources of carbon to the atmosphere (NCE declined to −0.5 μmol m−2 s−1) with increased severity of the summer drought. Differences in the patterns of ET led to lower surface soil moisture content and increased soil temperatures during summer in the cheatgrass-dominated community compared to the adjacent sagebrush community. Intensive measurements at one site revealed that temporal and spatial patterns of NCE and ET were correlated most closely with changes in leaf area in each community. By altering the patterns of carbon and water exchange, conversion of native sagebrush to postfire invasive communities may disrupt surface-atmosphere exchange and degrade the carbon storage capacity of these systems.

Keywords

Artemisia tridentata Bromus tectorum Invasion Carbon flux Water flux 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge G. Bollero for assistance with the experimental design and statistical analyses, S.P. Long for his guidance in calculating gas-exchange fluxes, D. Schorran for technical assistance in calibration and operation of field equipment, and E. Barrett, L. Beers, R. Bergin, C. Bowman, K. Reodica, J. Rosta, L. Sotoodeh, L. Tarnay, M. Van, H. Weatherly and B. Williams for invaluable logistical support. We thank O. Dermody, R. Knepp, A. Leakey, D. Moore, J. Tang and anonymous reviewers for thoughtful criticisms of the manuscript. This research was funded by grants from the International Arid Lands Consortium (Project 00R-05 and 02R-03), with additional support provided by the University of Illinois Graduate College and the Francis M. and Harlie M. Clark Research Support Grant.

References

  1. Anderson EW (1986) A guide for estimating cover. Rangelands 8:236–238Google Scholar
  2. Angell R, Svejcar T (1999) A chamber design for measuring net CO2 exchange on rangeland. J Range Manag 52:27–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Angell RF, Svejcar T, Bates J, Saliendra NZ, Johnson DA (2001) Bowen ratio and closed chamber carbon dioxide flux measurements over sagebrush steppe vegetation. Agric For Meteorol 108:153–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arnone JA, Obrist D (2003) A large daylight geodesic dome for quantification of whole-ecosystem CO2 and water vapour fluxes in arid shrublands. J Arid Environ 55:629–643CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Black RA, Mack RN (1986) Mount St. Helens ash: recreating its effects on the steppe environment and ecophysiology. Ecology 67:1289–1302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blank RR, Allen F, Young JA (1994) Extractable anions in soils following wildfire in a sagebrush–grass community. Soil Sci Soc Am J 58:564–570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bonan GB (1999) Frost Followed the Plow: Impacts of Deforestation on the Climate of the United States. Ecol Appl 9:1305–1315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bremer DJ, Ham JM (1999) Effect of spring burning on the surface energy balance in a tallgrass prairie. Agric For Meteorol 97:43–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bremer DJ, Ham JM, Owensby CE, Knapp AK (1998) Responses of soil respiration to clipping and grazing in a tallgrass prairie. J Environ Qual 27:1539–1548CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Busch DE, Smith SD (1995) Mechanisms associated with decline of woody species in riparian ecosystems of the southwestern U.S. Ecol Monogr 65:347–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Campbell GS, Harris GA (1977) Water relations and water use patterns for Artemisia tridentata Nutt. in wet and dry years. Ecology 58:652–659CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chapin FS (2003) Effects of plant traits on ecosystem and regional processes: a conceptual framework for predicting the consequences of global change. Ann Botany 91:455–463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chapin FS, Walker BH, Hobbs RJ, Hooper DU, Lawton JH, Sala O, Tilman D (1997) Biotic control over the functioning of ecosystems. Science 277:500–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chapin FS, Zavaleta ES, Eviner VT, Naylor RL, Vitousek PM, Reynolds HL, Hooper DU, Lavorel S, Sala OE, Hobbie SE, Mack MC, Diaz S (2000) Consequences of changing biodiversity. Nature 405:234–242PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Charley JL, West NE (1975) Plant-induced soil chemical patterns in some shrub-dominated semi-desert ecosystems of Utah. J Ecol 63:945–963CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cunningham GL, Strain BR (1969) An ecological significance of seasonal leaf variability in a desert shrub. Ecology 50:100–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. D’Antonio CM, Vitousek PM (1992) Biological invasions by exotic grasses, the grass/fire cycle, and global change. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 23:63–87Google Scholar
  18. DePuit EJ, Caldwell MM (1973) Seasonal pattern of net photosynthesis of Artemisia tridentata. Am J Bot 60:426–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dugas WA, Hicks RA, Gibbens RP (1996) Structure and function of C-3 and C-4 Chihuahuan Desert plant communities. Energy balance components. J Arid Environ 34:63–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Eastman JL, Coughenour MB, Pielke SRA (2001) The regional effects of CO2 and landscape change using a coupled plant and meteorological model. Global Change Biol 7:797–815CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Frasier GW, Cox JR (1994) Water balance in pure stand of Lehmann lovegrass. J Range Manag 47:373–378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gilmanov TG, Johnson DA, Saliendra NZ (2003) Growing season CO2 fluxes in a sagebrush-steppe ecosystem in Idaho: bowen ration/energy balance measurements and modeling. Basic Appl Ecol 4:167–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Halvorson JJ, Bolton H, Smith JL (1997) The pattern of soil variables related to Artemisia tridentata in a burned shrub-steppe site. Soil Sci Soc Am J 61:287–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ham JM, Knapp AK (1998) Fluxes of CO2, water vapor, and energy from a prairie ecosystem during the seasonal transition from carbon sink to carbon source. Agric For Meteorol 89:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Harris GA (1967) Some competitive relationships between Agropyron spicatum and Bromus tectorum. Ecol Monogr 37:89–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Holmes TH, Rice KJ (1996) Patterns of Growth and Soil-water utilization in some exotic annuals and native perennial bunchgrasses of California. Ann Botany 78:233–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hooper DU, Vitousek PM (1997) The effects of plant composition and diversity on ecosystem processes. Science 277:1302–1305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hooper DU, Cardon ZG, Chapin III FS, Durant M (2002) Corrected calculations for soil and ecosystem measurements of CO2 flux using the LI-COR 6200 portable photosynthesis system. Oecologia, pp 1–18Google Scholar
  29. Houghton RA (1999) The annual net flux of carbon to the atmosphere from changes in land use 1850–1990. Tellus 51B:298–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Huenneke LF, Anderson JP, Remmenga M, Schlesinger H (2002) Desertification alters patterns of aboveground net primary production in Chihuahuan ecosystems. Global Change Biol 8:247–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kolb KJ, Sperry JS (1999) Differences in drought adaptation between subspecies of sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata). Ecology 80:2373–2384Google Scholar
  32. Lacey JR, Olson BE (1991) Environmental and economic impacts of noxious range weeds. In: James LF, Evans JO, Ralphs MH, Child RD (eds) noxious range weeds. Westview, San Francisco, pp 5–16Google Scholar
  33. Law BE, Falge E, Gu L, Baldocchi DD, Bakwin P, Berbigier P, Davis K, Hollinger D, Janssens IA, Jarvis P, Jensen NO, Katul G, Mahli Y, Matteucci G, Meyers T, Monson R, Munger W, Oechel W, Olson RA, Pilegaard K, Paw U KT, Thorgeirsson H, Valentini R, Verma S, Vesala T, Wilson K, Wofsy S (2002) Environmental controls over carbon dioxide and water vapor exchange of terrestrial vegetation. Agric For Meteorol 113:97–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. LeCain DR, Morgan JA, Schuman GE, Reeder JD, Hart RH (2000) Carbon exchange rates in grazed and ungrazed pastures of Wyoming. J Range Manag 53:199–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. LeCain DR, Morgan JA, Schuman GE, Reeder JD, Hart RH (2002) Carbon exchange and species composition of grazed pastures and exclosures in thes hortgrass steppe of Colorado. Agric, Ecosyst Environ 93:421–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Link SO, Gee GW, Thiede ME, Beedlow PA (1990) Response of a shrub-steppe ecosystem to fire: Soil water and vegetational change. Arid Soil Res Rehabil 4:163–172Google Scholar
  37. Mack RN (1981) Invasion of Bromus tectorum L. into western North America: An ecological chronicle. Agro-Ecosyst 7:145–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Melgoza G, Nowak RS, Tausch RJ (1990) Soil water exploitation after fire: competition between Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass) and two native species. Oecologia 83:7–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Miller RF, Shultz LM (1987) Development and longevity of ephemeral and perennial leaves on Artemisia tridentata Nutt. ssp. wyomingensis. Great Basin Nat 47:227–230Google Scholar
  40. Obrist D, DeLucia EH, Arnone III JA (2003) Consequences of wildfire on ecosystem CO2 and water vapour fluxes in the Great Basin. Global Change Biol 9:563–574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Obrist D, Yakir D, Arnone III JA (2004) Temporal and spatial patterns of soil water following wildfire-induced changes in plant communities in the Great Basin in Nevada, USA. Plant Soil 262:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pellant M (1994) History and Applications of the Intermountain Greenstripping Program. In: proceedings-ecology and management of annual rangelands, General Technical Report INT-GTR-313 edn. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research StationGoogle Scholar
  43. Raich JW, Schlesinger WH (1992) The global carbon dioxide flux in soil respiration and its relationship to vegetation and climate. Tellus 44B:81–89Google Scholar
  44. Sala A, Smith SD, Devitt DA (1996) Water use by Tamarix ramosissima and associated phreatophytes in a Mojave desert floodplain. Ecol Appl 6:888–898CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Schlesinger WH, Reynolds JF, Cunningham GL, Huenneke LF, Jarrell WM, Virginia RA, Whitford WG (1990) Biological feedbacks in global desertification. Science 247:1043–1048PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Schlesinger WH, Raikes JA, Hartley AE, Cross AF (1996) On the spatial pattern of soil nutrients in desert ecosystems. Ecology 77:364–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Shukla J, Nobre C, Sellers P (1990) Amazon deforestation and climate change. Science 247:1322–1325PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sims PL, Bradford JA (2001) Carbon dioxide fluxes in a southern plains prairie. Agric For Meteorol 109:117–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Smith WK, Kelly RD, Welker JM, Fahnestock JT, Reiners WA, Hunt ER (2003) Leaf-to-aircraft measurements of net CO2 exchange in sagebrush steppe ecosystem. J Geophys Res 108:4122–4155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tilman D, Knops J, Wedin D, Reich P, Ritchie M, Siemann E (1997) The influence of functional diversity and composition on ecosystem processes. Science 277:1300–1302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Vitousek PM, Walker LR (1989) Biological invasion by myrica faya in hawai’i: plant demography, nitrogen fixation, ecosystem effects. Ecol Monogr 59:247–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Vourlitis GL, Oechel WC, Hastings SJ, Jenkins MA (1993) A system for measuring in situ CO2 and CH4 flux in unmanaged ecosystems: an arctic example. Funct Ecol 7:369–379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wylie BK, Johnson DA, Laca E, Saliendra NZ, Gilmanov TG, Reed BC, Tieszen LL, Worstell BB (2003) Calibration of remotely sensed, coarse resolution NDVI to CO2 fluxes in a sagebrush-steppe ecosystem. Remote Sens Environ 85:243–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Young JA, Evans RA (1978) Population dynamics after wildfires in sagebrush grasslands. J Range Manag 31:283–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Young JA, Evans RA, Major J (1972) Alien plants in the Great Basin. J Range Manag 25:194–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Young JA, Evans RA, Eckert RE Jr, Kay BL (1987) Cheatgrass Rangelands 9:266–270Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret R. Prater
    • 1
  • Daniel Obrist
    • 2
  • John A. ArnoneIII
    • 2
  • Evan H. DeLucia
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologyUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.Division of Earth and Ecosystem SciencesDesert Research InstituteRenoUSA

Personalised recommendations