Project description:Climate change, characterized by warming and precipitation variability, restricted the growth of plants in arid and semiarid areas, and various functional traits are impacted differently. Comparing responses of functional traits to warming and precipitation variability and determining critical water threshold of dominate steppe grasses from Inner Mongolia facilitates the identification and monitoring of water stress effects. A combination of warming (ambient temperature, +1.5°C and +2.0°C) and varying precipitation (-30%, -15%, ambient, +15%, and +30%) manipulation experiments were performed on four Stipa species (S. baicalensis, S. bungeana, S. grandis, and S. breviflora) from Inner Mongolia steppe. The results showed that the functional traits of the four grasses differed in their responses to precipitation, but they shared common sensitive traits (root/shoot ratio, R/S, and specific leaf area; SLA) under ambient temperature condition. Warming increased the response of the four grasses to changing precipitation, and these differences in functional traits resulted in changes to their total biomass, with leaf area, SLA, and R/S making the largest contributions. Critical water thresholds of the four grasses were identified, and warming led to their higher optimum precipitation requirements. The four steppe grasses were able to adapt better to mild drought (summer precipitation decreased by 12%-28%) when warming 1.5°C rather than 2.0°C. These results indicated that if the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C will be accomplished, this will increase the probability for sustained viability of the Stipa steppes in the next 50-100 years.
Project description:We examined the photosynthetic responses of Stipa baicalensis to relative long-term exposure (42 days) to the predicted elevated temperature and water availability changes to determine the mechanisms through which the plant would acclimate to future climate change. Two thermal regimes (ambient and +4?°C) and three irrigation levels (partial, normal and excess) were used in environmental control chambers. The gas exchange parameters, light response curves and A/Ci curves were determined. The elevated temperature and partial irrigation reduced the net photosynthetic rate due to a limitation in the photosynthetic capacity instead of the intercellular CO2 concentration. Partial irrigation decreased Rubisco activation and limited RuBP regeneration. The reduction in Vcmax increased with increasing temperature. Excess irrigation offset the negative effect of drought and led to a partial recovery of the photosynthetic capacity. Although its light use efficiency was restricted, the use of light and dark respiration by Stipa baicalensis was unchanged. We concluded that nonstomatal limitation was the primary reason for photosynthesis regulation in Stipa baicalensis under relative long-term climate change conditions. Although climate change caused reductions in the light use efficiency and photosynthetic rate, a self-photoprotection mechanism in Stipa baicalensis resulted in its high ability to maintain normal live activities.
Project description:Soil microbial communities play a crucial role in ecological restoration, but it is unknown how co-occurrence networks within these communities respond to grazing exclusion. This lack of information was addressed by investigating the effects of eight years of grazing exclusion on microbial networks in an area of <i>Stipa glareosa</i> P. Smirn desert steppe in northern China. Here, we show that fungal networks were more sensitive to grazing exclusion than bacterial networks. Eight years of grazing exclusion decreased the soil fungal community stability via changes in plant composition and reductions in soil total organic carbon, in this case triggering negative effects on the <i>S. glareosa</i> desert steppe. The results provide new insights into the response mechanisms of soil microbes to grazing exclusion and offer possible solutions for management issues in the restoration of degraded desert steppe.
Project description:Understanding the response of the plant community to increasing nitrogen (N) deposition is helpful for improving pasture management in semi-arid areas. We implemented a 5-year N addition experiment in a Stipa krylovii steppe of Inner Mongolia, northern China. The aboveground biomass (AGB) and species richness were measured annually. Along with the N addition levels, the species richness declined significantly, and the species composition changed noticeably. However, the total AGB did not exhibit a noticeable increase. We found that compensatory effects of the AGB occurred not only between the grasses and the forbs but also among Gramineae species. The plant responses to N addition, from the community to species level, lessened in dry years compared to wet or normal years. The N addition intensified the reduction of community productivity in dry years. Our study indicated that the compensatory effects of the AGB among the species sustained the stability of grassland productivity. However, biodiversity loss resulting from increasing N deposition might lead the semi-arid grassland ecosystem to be unsustainable, especially in dry years.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND AIMS:Long-term studies to disentangle the multiple, simultaneous effects of global change on community dynamics are a high research priority to forecast future distribution of diversity. Seldom are such multiple effects of global change studied across different ecosystems. METHODS:Here we manipulated nitrogen deposition and rainfall at levels realistic for future environmental scenarios in three contrasting steppe types in Mongolia and followed community dynamics for 7 years. KEY RESULTS:Redundancy analyses showed that community composition varied significantly among years. Rainfall and nitrogen manipulations did have some significant effects, but these effects were dependent on the type of response and varied between ecosystems. Community compositions of desert and meadow steppes, but not that of typical steppe, responded significantly to rainfall addition. Only community composition of meadow steppe responded significantly to nitrogen deposition. Species richness in desert steppe responded significantly to rainfall addition, but the other two steppes did not. Typical steppe showed significant negative response of species richness to nitrogen deposition, but the other two steppes did not. There were significant interactions between year and nitrogen deposition in desert steppe and between year and rainfall addition in typical steppe, suggesting that the effect of the treatments depends on the particular year considered. CONCLUSIONS:Our multi-year experiment thus suggests that responses of community structure and diversity to global change drivers are ecosystem-dependent and that their responses to experimental treatments are dwarfed by the year-to-year community dynamics. Therefore, our results point to the importance of taking annual environmental variability into account for understanding and predicting the specific responses of different ecosystems to multiple global change drivers.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND AIMS:Leaf longevity is an important plant functional trait that often varies with soil nitrogen supply. Ethylene is a classical plant hormone involved in the control of senescence and abscission, but its role in nitrogen-dependent leaf longevity is largely unknown. METHODS:Pot and field experiments were performed to examine the effects of nitrogen addition on leaf longevity and ethylene production in two dominant plant species, Agropyron cristatum and Stipa krylovii, in a temperate steppe in northern China. KEY RESULTS:Nitrogen addition increased leaf ethylene production and nitrogen concentration but shortened leaf longevity; the addition of cobalt chloride, an ethylene biosynthesis inhibitor, reduced leaf nitrogen concentration and increased leaf longevity. Path analysis indicated that nitrogen addition reduced leaf longevity mainly through altering leaf ethylene production. CONCLUSIONS:These findings provide the first experimental evidence in support of the involvement of ethylene in nitrogen-induced decrease in leaf longevity.
Project description:Chaetosiphella stipae stipae is a xerothermophilous aphid, associated with Palaearctic temperate steppe zones or dry mountain valleys, where there are grasses from the genus Stipa. Its geographical distribution shows several populations that are spread from Spain, across Europe and Asia Minor, to Mongolia and China. Geographical variation in chaetotaxy and other morphological features were the basis to consider whether individuals from different populations are still the same species. Moreover, using Ch. stipae stipae and Stipa species occurrences, as well as climatic variables, we predict potential geographical distributions of the aphid and its steppe habitat. Additionally, for Stipa species we projected current climatic conditions under four climate change scenarios for 2050 and 2070. While highly variable, our results of morphometric analysis demonstrates that all Ch. stipae stipae populations are one very variable subspecies. And in view of predicted climate change, we expect reduction of Stipa grasslands. The disappearance of these ecosystems could result in stronger separation of the East-European and Asian steppes as well as European 'warm-stage' refuges. Therefore, the geographic morphological variability that we see today in the aphid subspecies Ch. stipae stipae may in the future lead to speciation and creation of separate subspecies or species.
Project description:Global climate change and nitrogen deposition have been having broad impacts on microorganisms. On the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP), the responses of soil microbial community assemblage and diversity to nitrogen deposition and changes in precipitation are poorly understood, especially in the alpine steppe. In this study, we conducted a field manipulative experiment of nitrogen deposition and precipitation amount in an alpine steppe on the northeastern QTP and investigated the responses of community composition, diversity, and community assemblage of soil fungi. Soil fungal community compositions were significantly altered under nitrogen addition, precipitation change, and their interaction, and positively related with soil moisture, soil pH, and plant species richness. However, they were negatively related to soil mineralizable N and soil available P content. Operational taxonomic units (OTU) richness and Chao 1 index decreased under nitrogen addition combined with precipitation reduction treatment, whereas the Shannon-Wiener index declined only under precipitation increment treatment. Convergent fungal community assembly processes were not acutely altered by both nitrogen addition and precipitation changes, indicating that environmental filtering was a dominant ecological process controlling fungal community assemblage. By elucidating the above questions, the study enhanced our ability to predict the responses of soil fungal communities to nitrogen deposition and precipitation changes at alpine steppes on the QTP in the future.