Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Deserts and rainforests are equally productive during drought

30.06.2004


A team of researchers led by Melinda Smith at Yale and Travis Huxman at the University of Arizona report that, from desert to rainforest, during drought conditions, the maximum rain use efficiency (RUEmax), or effective productivity of plant growth per unit of precipitation converges to a common value.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the International Biological Program (IBP) began to study how water affects productivity in different ecosystems. It was not until this current group of scientists pooled long-term data in a workshop at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at University of California, Santa Barbara that the scope and similarity of productivity in all ecosystems was seen. Their study, published in the journal Nature, represents datasets from 14 ecosystems.

The RUEmax model predicts that when water is the most limiting resource there will be convergence in the production-precipitation ratio for all biomes. The previous, site model predicts there will be a difference in productivity and that sensitivity of different ecosystems is a function of the different forms of plant growth.



"We looked across nine different biomes - from a forest all the way to a very dry desert - at the sensitivity of production to precipitation," said Smith, associate professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale. "The data showed that if you look at the driest year, when water is most limiting, in any of the 14 sites - and compare growth production in that year - the rate of growth production in all biomes converges to a RUEmax that is very similar to what is seen in deserts."

Therefore, in a forest, during a really dry year there is the same growth production per unit of precipitation as there is in a really dry year in a desert. This data indicates that production sensitivity depends on the extent to which water is the limiting resource.

Although the RUEmax model is based on previously collected and pooled data, experiments in progress uphold this model. At one grassland site in Kansas where rainfall was excluded completely, the observed growth ratio matched RUEmax prediction - much lower than the site model prediction.

"These results have strong implications for the future. Current global models do not take into account climate variation much beyond what has already been seen," said Smith. "A danger is that if we have a sudden drought, according to the RUEmax data, the older global models are likely to overestimate the capacity for plant production. We can’t underestimate the value for this kind of study on making real predictions."

"There will be always be adaptation to different climate, but fluctuations in the rate of change are most important to ecosystem sensitivity and immediate responses will be more drastic," said Smith.

If precipitation becomes more variable, the variability itself will increase the sensitivity and vulnerability of the ecosystem with the same impact as reducing the precipitation.

Janet Rettig Emanuel | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.yale.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli
26.04.2017 | University of the Basque Country

nachricht New data unearths pesticide peril in beehives
21.04.2017 | Cornell University

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How Plants Form Their Sugar Transport Routes

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Protein 'spy' gains new abilities

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers unravel the social network of immune cells

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>