Disentangling the effects of climatic variability and climate extremes on the belowground biomass of C3- and C4-dominated grasslands across five ecoregions

Md Lokman Hossain, Jianfeng LI*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Elucidating the variation in grassland belowground biomass (BGB) and its response to changes in climatic variables are key issues in plant ecology research. In this study, BGB data for five ecoregions (cold steppe, temperate dry steppe, savanna, humid savanna, and humid temperate) were used to examine the effects of climatic variability and extremes on the BGB of C3- and C4-dominated grasslands. Results showed that BGB varied significantly across the ecoregions, with the highest levels in cold steppe and the lowest in savanna. The results indicated that growing-season temperature, maximum and minimum temperatures and their interactions had significantly positive effects on the single-harvest BGB of C3 plants in colder ecoregions (i.e., humid temperate and cold steppe) and of C4 plants in arid ecoregions (i.e., temperate dry steppe and savanna). The single-harvest BGB of C3 plants in arid ecoregions and C4 plants in humid savanna ecoregion declined with increasing temperature during the growing season. Growing-season precipitation exerted significant positive effects on the single-harvest BGB of C4 plants in arid ecoregions. Annual temperature variables negatively impacted the annual BGB of humid temperate ecoregion, because of the dominance of C3 plants. Increasing cumulative growing-season precipitation elevated and the mean annual temperature reduced the annual BGB of both categories of plants in arid ecoregions. Compared with normal climates, extreme dry events during the growing season enhanced single-harvest BGB in colder ecoregions. The single-harvest BGB of C4 plants in savanna tended to increase during extreme wet and decrease during moderate dry events compared to normal climates. This study suggests that the differential effects of climatic variability and extremes on BGB can be explained by differences in plant types, and ecoregions. These findings on the responses of the BGB to climatic variability and extremes constitute important scientific evidence emphasizing the need to maintain ecosystem stability across ecoregions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number143894
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume760
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

User-Defined Keywords

  • Belowground biomass
  • C and C grassland
  • Climate extreme intensity
  • Climate extremes
  • Climatic variability
  • Ecoregion

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