Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Combining global environmental changes yields surprising ecosystem response

06.12.2002


Scientists have discovered that elevated atmospheric CO2 (carbon dioxide) can suppress plant growth when increases of this important greenhouse gas are combined with a broad suite of already-occurring environmental changes. According to Christopher Field, project leader and director of the new Department of Global Ecology of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, "We are now getting a much richer picture of ecosystem responses to global environmental changes, and the traditional view that elevated CO2 always stimulates plant growth simply isn’t correct." The research is published in the December 6, 2002, issue of Science.

Many past studies of global-change impacts on plants and ecosystems have focused on responses to increases in atmospheric CO2. But realistically, global changes are much more than just elevated CO2. They include global warming, altered rainfall, and increases in biologically available nitrogen compounds produced during fossil-fuel combustion. These other global changes can have major impacts on plants and ecosystems. A new study by scientists at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, the Nature Conservancy, and Stanford University shows, for the first time, how these other global changes alter the response of a natural ecosystem to increased atmospheric CO2. According to lead author Rebecca Shaw, "In the third year of the experiment, plant growth increased in the plots treated with CO2 alone, as in many other experiments. It also increased in plots exposed to the other global changes--warming, increased precipitation, and fertilizing with nitrogen --alone or in combination. But, when we added carbon dioxide, the effect of the other treatments was suppressed. The elevated CO2 in this situation pushed the response back toward the initial conditions."

Over the last hundred years, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by more than 30%. The planet has warmed by about 1 ºF. Rainfall has increased in some regions and decreased in others. And human actions have more than doubled inputs of biologically available nitrogen. Elevated atmospheric CO2 increases plant growth in many experiments, but most past experiments studied impacts of CO2 alone or in combination with one other factor. The results of the Carnegie-led experiment reveal new dimensions of ecosystem responses to global change. In the California grassland studied by this team, elevated CO2 suppresses plant growth in many treatments, especially treatments where growth at normal CO2 is fastest. Field noted, "When we look at impacts of realistic global changes on whole ecosystems, we see a broad range of responses. We do not yet know whether responses will be similar in other ecosystems, but our wide range of treatments helps open the door to understanding global-change impacts on ecosystems not yet studied."



This research was conducted over a three-year period at Stanford University’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. The small stature and short life span of the plants in this California grassland ecosystem make it a model system --one that is relatively simple to study, but with results that can be used to help interpret global-change responses of all the world’s land ecosystems.

Carnegie’s new Department of Global Ecology --launched July 1, 2002, on the campus of Stanford University -- grew from a century of ecological research at Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology, also at Stanford. Using the latest technology--from satellite imagery to the tools of molecular biology--Carnegie scientists have been analyzing the complicated interactions of Earth’s land, atmosphere, and oceans. Building from biological details at the level of biochemistry and physiology, they link data and concepts from the microscopic to the global scales. The interdisciplinary Carnegie team views the planet through a biological lens to probe the function, assess the fragility, and explore the integration of the world’s ecosystems. They tackle issues such as the global carbon cycle, the role of land and oceanic ecosystems in regulating climate, the interaction of biological diversity with ecosystem function, and much more. According to Field, "We know too much about the influence of mechanisms that span biology, geology, and atmospheric sciences to stick with traditional disciplinary approaches for global studies. We need to establish a new, interdisciplinary scientific field--global ecology."


The Carnegie Institution of Washington (http://www.CarnegieInstitution.org) has been a pioneering force in basic scientific research since 1902. It is a private, nonprofit organization with six research departments in the U.S.: Embryology, Geophysical Laboratory, Terrestrial Magnetism, The Observatories, Plant Biology, and Global Ecology.

Rebecca Shaw | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ciw.edu/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>