, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 888–900 | Cite as

Effects of Warming, Summer Drought, and CO2 Enrichment on Aboveground Biomass Production, Flowering Phenology, and Community Structure in an Upland Grassland Ecosystem

  • Juliette M. G. Bloor
  • Patrick Pichon
  • Robert Falcimagne
  • Paul Leadley
  • Jean-François Soussana


Future climate scenarios predict simultaneous changes in environmental conditions, but the impacts of multiple climate change drivers on ecosystem structure and function remain unclear. We used a novel experimental approach to examine the responses of an upland grassland ecosystem to the 2080 climate scenario predicted for the study area (3.5°C temperature increase, 20% reduction in summer precipitation, atmospheric CO2 levels of 600 ppm) over three growing seasons. We also assessed whether patterns of grassland response to a combination of climate change treatments could be forecast by ecosystem responses to single climate change drivers. Effects of climate change on aboveground production showed considerable seasonal and interannual variation; April biomass increased in response to both warming and the simultaneous application of warming, summer drought, and CO2 enrichment, whereas October biomass responses were either non-significant or negative depending on the year. Negative impacts of summer drought on production were only observed in combination with a below-average rainfall regime, and showed lagged effects on spring biomass. Elevated CO2 had no significant effect on aboveground biomass during this study. Both warming and the 2080 climate change scenario were associated with a significant advance in flowering time for the dominant grass species studied. However, flowering phenology showed no significant response to either summer drought or elevated CO2. Species diversity and equitability showed no response to climate change treatments throughout this study. Overall, our data suggest that single-factor warming experiments may provide valuable information for projections of future ecosystem changes in cool temperate grasslands.


biodiversity climate change Free Air CO2 enrichment grassland productivity interannual variation vegetation dynamics 



We thank C. Picon-Cochard and F. Giacomoni for assistance with monolith transplantation and site management. Thanks also to A. Cantarel for help with data collection and JM. Dreuillaux for help with species identification. This study was supported by a CNRS postdoctoral fellowship to JMGB, an IFB-GICC project grant, and an ANR project grant.


  1. Chaves MM, Maroco JP, Pereira JS. 2003. Understanding plant responses to drought—from genes to the whole plant. Funct Plant Biol 30:239–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cleland EE, Chiariello NR, Loarie SR, Mooney HA, Field CB. 2006. Diverse responses of phenology to global changes in a grassland ecosystem. PNAS 103:13740–4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. De Boeck HJ, Lemmens CMHM, Zavalloni C, Gielen B, Malchair S, Carnol M, Merckx R, Van den Berge J, Ceulemans R, Nijs I. 2008. Biomass production in experimental grasslands of different species richness during three years of climate warming. Biogeosciences 5:585–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dukes JS, Chiariello NR, Cleland EE, Moore LA, Shaw MR, Thayer S, Tobeck T, Mooney HA, Field CB. 2005. Responses of grassland production to single and multiple global environmental changes. PLoS Biol 3:e319.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Dunne JA, Harte J, Taylor KJ. 2003. Subalpine meadow flowering phenology responses to climate change: integrating experimental and gradient methods. Ecol Monogr 73:69–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Engel EC, Weltzin JF, Norby RJ, Classen AT. 2009. Responses of an old-field plant community to interacting factors of elevated [CO2], warming and soil moisture. J Plant Ecol 2:1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fay PA, Carlisle JD, Knapp AK, Blair JM, Collins SL. 2003. Productivity responses to altered rainfall patterns in a C4-dominated grassland. Oecologia 137:245–51.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Fitter AH, Fitter RSR. 2002. Rapid changes in flowering time in British plants. Science 296:1689–91.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Gilligan CA. 1986. Use and misuse of the analysis of variance in plant pathology. Adv Plant Pathol 5:225–61.Google Scholar
  10. Grime JP, Brown VK, Thompson K, Masters GJ, Hillier SH, Clarke IP, Askew AP, Corker D, Kielty JP. 2000. The response of two contrasting limestone grasslands to simulated climate change. Science 289:762–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Grime JP, Fridley JD, Askew AP, Thompson K, Hodgson JG, Bennett CR. 2008. Long-term resistance to simulated climate change in an infertile grassland. PNAS 105:10032–58.Google Scholar
  12. Hovenden MJ, Wills KE, Van der Schoor JK, Williams AL, Newton PCD. 2008. Flowering phenology in a species-rich temperate grassland is sensitive to warming but not elevated CO2. New Phytol 178:815–22.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. IPCC. 2001. Climate change 2001: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. In: McCarthy JJ, Canziani OF, Leary NA, Dokken DJ, White KS, Eds. Contribution of Working Group II to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on climate change. Cambridge (UK): Cambridge University Press. 1032 pp.Google Scholar
  14. IPCC. 2007. Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL, Eds. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on climate change. Cambridge (UK) and New York (NY, USA): Cambridge University Press. 996 pp.Google Scholar
  15. Kent M, Coker P. 1992. Vegetation description and analysis: a practical approach. London: Belhaven Press. 384 pp.Google Scholar
  16. Leadley PW, Niklaus PA, Stocker R, Korner C. 1999. A field study of the effects of elevated CO2 on plant biomass and community structure in a calcareous grassland. Oecologia 118:39–49.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Lemaire G, Gastal F. 1997. N uptake and distribution in plant canopies. In: Lemaire G, Ed. Diagnosis of the nitrogen status in crops. New York (NY): Springer-Verlag. p 3–41.Google Scholar
  18. Louault F, Pillar VD, Aufrere J, Garnier E, Soussana JF. 2005. Plant traits and functional types in response to reduced disturbance in a semi-natural grassland. J Veg Sci 16:151–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Luo Y. 2007. Terrestrial carbon-cycle feedback to climate warming. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 38:683–712.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Luo Y, Gerten D, Le Maire G, Parton WJ, Weng E, Zhou X, Keough C, Beier C, Ciais P, Cramer W, Dukes JS, Emmett B, Hanson PJ, Knapp A, Linder S, Nepstad D, Rustad L. 2008. Modeled interactive effects of precipitation, temperature, and [CO2] on ecosystem carbon and water dynamics in different climatic zones. Glob Change Biol 14:1986–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McCune B, Grace JB. 2002. Analysis of ecological communities. Gleneden Beach: MjM Software Design. 300 pp. Google Scholar
  22. Menzel A, Sparks TH, Estrella N, Koch E, Aasa A, Ahas R, Alm-Kubler K, Bissolli P, Braslavska O, Briede A, Chmielewski FM, Crepinsek Z, Curnel Y, Dahl A, Defila C, Donnelly A, Filella Y, Jatczak K, Mage F, Mestre A, Nordli O, Penuelas J, Pirinen P, Remisova V, Scheifinger H, Striz M, Susnik A, Van Vliet AJH, Wielgolaski FE, Zach S, Zust A. 2006. European phenological response to climate change matches the warming pattern. Glob Change Biol 12:1969–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Miglietta F, Hoosbeek MR, Foot J et al. 2001. Spatial and temporal performance of the Mini-FACE (Free Air CO2 Enrichment) system on bog ecosystems in northern and central Europe. Environ Monit Assess 66:107–27.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Morgan JA, Pataki DE, Korner C, Clark H, Del Grosso SJ, Grunzweig JM, Knapp AK, Mosier AR, Newton PCD, Niklaus PA, Nippert JB, Nowak RS, Parton WJ, Polley HW, Shaw MR. 2004. Water relations in grassland and desert ecosystems exposed to elevated atmospheric CO2. Oecologia 140:11–25.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Niklaus PA, Korner C. 2004. Synthesis of a six year study of calcareous grassland responses to in situ CO2 enrichment. Ecol Monogr 74:491–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Niklaus PA, Leadley PW, Schmid B, Korner C. 2001. A long-term field study on biodiversity × elevated CO2 interactions in grassland. Ecol Monogr 73:341–56.Google Scholar
  27. Norby RJ, Luo Y. 2004. Evaluating ecosystem responses to rising atmospheric CO2 and global warming in a multi-factor world. New Phytol 162:281–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nord EA, Lynch JP. 2009. Plant phenology: a critical controller of soil resource acquisition. J Exp Bot 60:1927–37.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Nowak RS, Ellsworth DS, Smith SD. 2004. Functional responses of plants to elevated atmospheric CO2—do photosynthetic and productivity data from FACE experiments support early predictions? New Phytol 162:253–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Owensby CE, Coyne PI, Ham JM, Auen LM, Knapp AK. 1993. Biomass production in a tallgrass prairie ecosystem exposed to ambient and elevated CO2. Ecol Appl 3:644–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Owensby CE, Ham JM, Knapp AK, Auen LM. 1999. Biomass production and species composition change in a tallgrass prairie ecosystem after long-term exposure to elevated atmospheric CO2. Glob Change Biol 5:497–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Parmesan C, Yohe G. 2003. A globally coherent footprint of climate change impacts across natural systems. Nature 421:37–42.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Post E, Forchhammer MC, Bret-Harte MS, Callaghan TV, Christensen TR, Elberling B, Fox AD, Gilg O, Hik DS, Høye TT, Ims RA, Jeppesen E, Klein DR, Madsen J, McGuire AD, Rysgaard S, Schindler DE, Stirling I, Tamstorf MP, Tyler NJC, van der Wal R, Welker J, Wookey PA, Schmidt NM, Aastrup P. 2009. Ecological dynamics across the Arctic associated with recent climate change. Science 325:1355–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Potvin C, Vasseur L. 1997. Long-term CO2 enrichment of a pasture community: species richness, dominance and succession. Ecology 78:666–77.Google Scholar
  35. Reich PB, Hungate BA, Luo Y. 2006. Carbon–nitrogen interactions in terrestrial ecosystems in response to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 37:611–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rustad LE, Campbell JL, Marion GM, Norby RJ, Mitchell MJ, Hartley AE, Cornelissen JHC, Gurevitch J. 2001. A meta-analysis of the response of soil respiration, net nitrogen mineralization and aboveground plant growth to experimental ecosystem warming. Oecologia 126:543–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sherry RA, Weng E, Arnone JA, Johnson DW, Schimel DS, Verburg PS, Wallace LL, Luo Y. 2008. Lagged effects of experimental warming and doubled precipitation on annual and seasonal aboveground biomass production in a tallgrass prairie. Glob Change Biol 14:2923–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Springer CJ, Ward JK. 2007. Flowering time and elevated atmospheric CO2. New Phytol 176:243–55.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Teyssonneyre F, Picon-Cochard C, Falcimagne R, Soussana JF. 2002. Effects of elevated CO2 and cutting frequency on plant community structure in a temperate grassland. Glob Change Biol 8:1034–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Tubiello FN, Soussana JF, Howden SM. 2007. Crop and pasture responses to climate change. PNAS 104:19686–90.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Zavaleta ES, Shaw MR, Chiariello NR, Mooney HA, Field CB. 2003. Additive effects of simulated climate changes, elevated CO2 and nitrogen deposition on grassland diversity. PNAS 100:7650–4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Zhou XH, Talley M, Luo YQ. 2009. Biomass, litter, and soil respiration along a precipitation gradient in Southern Great Plains, USA. Ecosystems 12:1369–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juliette M. G. Bloor
    • 1
  • Patrick Pichon
    • 1
  • Robert Falcimagne
    • 1
  • Paul Leadley
    • 2
  • Jean-François Soussana
    • 1
  1. 1.INRA, UR874-Grassland Ecosystem Research UnitClermont-FerrandFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire d’Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution, UMR CNRS 8079Université Paris-SudOrsay CedexFrance

Personalised recommendations