Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Simulated global environmental changes impact plant diversity

17.06.2003


In a high-performance machine, each part is essential to the overall function of the whole. In ecology, species diversity is necessary to the smooth operation of the ecosystem. Until recently, little attention has been paid to the potential ecological effects on plant diversity from combined global environmental changes including increased atmospheric CO2, warming, elevated nitrogen pollution, and increased precipitation. Scientists from the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology in Palo Alto, California, and Stanford University published a study on this subject in the June 16-20, 2003, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online Early Edition. "We were surprised at how quickly some environmental changes can alter the complexion of an ecosystem," said Erika Zavaleta, the study’s lead author and a new member of the faculty at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The finding is significant for understanding what can happen to ecosystems when confronted with the interrelated climactic and atmospheric changes that are observed today and that presage larger changes in the future.



The Carnegie and Stanford scientists conducted their three-year study in the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve - a typical California grassland where the 43 plant species are a mixture of grasses and wildflowers. "We simulated a series of possible future environments for California, with four global change factors: elevated CO2, warming, nitrogen pollution, and added precipitation, alone and in combinations. Different combinations with altered levels of two, three, and four of these variables are likely to reflect future conditions in different parts of the globe," said Chris Field, director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology and coordinator of the Jasper Ridge study.

"At the end of three years, we found that treatments with three of the four experimental treatments changed total plant diversity. Elevated CO2 reduced diversity as did adding nitrogen. More water increased plant diversity and, warming alone had no effect," Zavaleta explained. The four treatment combinations that represent likely possible futures all resulted in decreased wildflower diversity; but total diversity was not affected because there was an increase in the grasses. The largest loss of wildflower diversity came with elevated CO2 plus warming and nitrogen pollution, and all four of the factors combined. "Given the importance of the wildflower species for wildlife, nutrient cycling, and natural beauty, the losses under realistic global changes are a cause for concern," said Zavaleta.


Field emphasized: "Over the last century we have witnessed an 30% increase in atmospheric CO2 , an overall global warming of about 1 F, increases in nitrogen pollution from human activities, and changes in rainfall patterns. We are in the process of determining how the interactions among these components are affecting the health of the planet. This study and others like it at Global Ecology can provide some sorely needed answers."


The Jasper Ridge Global Change Experiment was supported by the National Science Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Morgan Family Foundation, the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, and the Carnegie Institution. The Carnegie Institution (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.


Chris Field | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ciw.edu/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

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: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>