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 Institutions 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 studys 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 Institutions 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.
Chris Field | EurekAlert!
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences