The physics and ecology of mining carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by ecosystems

Baldocchi D., Penuelas J. (2019) The physics and ecology of mining carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by ecosystems. Global Change Biology. : 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1111/gcb.14559

Resumen:

Reforesting and managing ecosystems have been proposed as ways to mitigate global warming and offset anthropogenic carbon emissions. The intent of our opinion piece is to provide a perspective on how well plants and ecosystems sequester carbon. The ability of individual plants and ecosystems to mine carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, as defined by rates and cumulative amounts, is limited by laws of physics and ecological principles. Consequently, the rates and amount of net carbon uptake are slow and low compared to the rates and amounts of carbon dioxide we release by fossil fuels combustion. Managing ecosystems to sequester carbon can also cause unintended consequences to arise. In this paper, we articulate a series of key take-home points. First, the potential amount of carbon an ecosystem can assimilate on an annual basis scales with absorbed sunlight, which varies with latitude, leaf area index and available water. Second, efforts to improve photosynthesis will come with the cost of more respiration. Third, the rates and amount of net carbon uptake are relatively slow and low, compared to the rates and amounts and rates of carbon dioxide we release by fossil fuels combustion. Fourth, huge amounts of land area for ecosystems will be needed to be an effective carbon sink to mitigate anthropogenic carbon emissions. Fifth, the effectiveness of using this land as a carbon sink will depend on its ability to remain as a permanent carbon sink. Sixth, converting land to forests or wetlands may have unintended costs that warm the local climate, such as changing albedo, increasing surface roughness or releasing other greenhouse gases. We based our analysis on 1,163 site-years of direct eddy covariance measurements of gross and net carbon fluxes from 155 sites across the globe. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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Contrasting effects of fog frequency on the radial growth of two tree species in a Mediterranean-temperate ecotone

Barbeta A., Camarero J.J., Sangüesa-Barreda G., Muffler L., Peñuelas J. (2019) Contrasting effects of fog frequency on the radial growth of two tree species in a Mediterranean-temperate ecotone. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 264: 297-308.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2018.10.020

Resumen:

The performance and persistence of rear-edge tree populations are relevant issues for conserving biodiversity because these stands harbor high intraspecific biodiversity and play a key role during periods of climate change. The occurrence of these populations is associated with the influence of heterogeneous topography, creating suitable refugia with regionally rare environmental conditions. Climate is changing at a global-scale, but little is known about the long-term impact on local climatic singularities and the associated taxa. We analyzed tree-ring growth chronologies of the two species (Fagus sylvatica and Quercus ilex) forming the evergreen-deciduous forest ecotone, constitutive of the rear-edge of F. sylvatica distribution. The study area is a coastal range with frequent fog immersion, which has been hypothesized to favor the persistence of F. sylvatica in Mediterranean peninsulas. We analyzed the long-term effect of fog on tree growth along a topographical gradient and the sensitivity of growth to rainfall and temperature. The annual number of foggy days has decreased by 62% over the last four decades, concomitant with increasing temperatures. Fog frequency was a relevant factor determining tree growth; fog during summer had positive effects on F. sylvatica growth mainly through a temperature buffering effect. The positive effect of fog on the growth of Q. ilex, however, was likely caused by a collinearity with rainfall. Q. ilex growth was less sensitive to climate than F. sylvatica, but growth of both species was enhanced by a positive early-summer water balance. Our results indicate that a decrease in fog frequency and an increase in temperature may generally benefit Q. ilex in this forest ecotone. Although future changes in rainfall and temperature matter most for the fate of rear-edge tree populations, local climatic singularities such as fog should also be considered. Those can have complementary effects that can swing the balance in ecotones and rear-edge tree populations such as those studied here. © 2018 Elsevier B.V.

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The effects of local climate on the correlation between weather and seed production differ in two species with contrasting masting habit

Bogdziewicz M., Szymkowiak J., Fernández-Martínez M., Peñuelas J., Espelta J.M. (2019) The effects of local climate on the correlation between weather and seed production differ in two species with contrasting masting habit. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 268: 109-115.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2019.01.016

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Many plant species present inter-annual cycles of seed production (mast seeding), with synchronized high seed production across populations in some years. Weather is believed to be centrally involved in triggering masting. The links between meteorological conditions and seeding are well-recognized for some species, but in others consistent correlates have not been found. We used a spatially extensive data set of fruit production to test the hypothesis that the influence of weather on seed production is conditioned by local climate and that this influence varies between species with different life history traits. We used two model species. European beech (Fagus sylvatica) that is a flowering masting species, i.e. seed production is determined by variable flower production, and sessile oak (Quercus petraea) that is a fruit-maturation masting species, i.e. seed production is determined by variable ripening of more constant flower production. We predicted that climate should strongly modulate the relationship between meteorological cue and fruit production in Q. petraea, while the relationship should be uniform in F. sylvatica. The influence of meteorological cue on reproduction in fruiting masting species should be strongly conditioned by local climate because the strength of environmental constraint that modulates the success of flower-to-fruit transition is likely to vary with local climatic conditions. In accordance, the meteorological cuing was consistent in F. sylvatica. In contrast, in Q. petraea the relationship between spring temperature and seed production varied among sites and was stronger in populations at colder sites. The clear difference in meteorological conditioning of seed production between the two studied species suggests the responses of masting plants to weather can be potentially systematized according to their masting habit: i.e. fruiting or flowering. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.

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Phenotypic biomarkers of climatic impacts on declining insect populations: A key role for decadal drought, thermal buffering and amplification effects and host plant dynamics

Carnicer J., Stefanescu C., Vives-Ingla M., López C., Cortizas S., Wheat C., Vila R., Llusià J., Peñuelas J. (2019) Phenotypic biomarkers of climatic impacts on declining insect populations: A key role for decadal drought, thermal buffering and amplification effects and host plant dynamics. Journal of Animal Ecology. : 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12933

Resumen:

Widespread population declines have been reported for diverse Mediterranean butterflies over the last three decades, and have been significantly associated with increased global change impacts. The specific landscape and climatic drivers of these declines remain uncertain for most declining species. Here, we analyse whether plastic phenotypic traits of a model butterfly species (Pieris napi) perform as reliable biomarkers of vulnerability to extreme temperature impacts in natural populations, showing contrasting trends in thermally exposed and thermally buffered populations. We also examine whether improved descriptions of thermal exposure of insect populations can be achieved by combining multiple information sources (i.e., integrating measurements of habitat thermal buffering, habitat thermal amplification, host plant transpiration, and experimental assessments of thermal death time (TDT), thermal avoidance behaviour (TAB) and thermally induced trait plasticity). These integrative analyses are conducted in two demographically declining and two non-declining populations of P. napi. The results show that plastic phenotypic traits (butterfly body mass and wing size) are reliable biomarkers of population vulnerability to extreme thermal conditions. Butterfly wing size is strongly reduced only in thermally exposed populations during summer drought periods. Laboratory rearing of these populations documented reduced wing size due to significant negative effects of increased temperatures affecting larval growth. We conclude that these thermal biomarkers are indicative of the population vulnerability to increasing global warming impacts, showing contrasting trends in thermally exposed and buffered populations. Thermal effects in host plant microsites significantly differ between populations, with stressful thermal conditions only effectively ameliorated in mid-elevation populations. In lowland populations, we observe a sixfold reduction in vegetation thermal buffering effects, and larval growth occurs in these populations at significantly higher temperatures. Lowland populations show reduced host plant quality (C/N ratio), reduced leaf transpiration rates and complete above-ground plant senescence during the peak of summer drought. Amplified host plant temperatures are observed in open microsites, reaching thermal thresholds that can affect larval survival. Overall, our results suggest that butterfly population vulnerability to long-term drought periods is associated with multiple co-occurring and interrelated ecological factors, including limited vegetation thermal buffering effects at lowland sites, significant drought impacts on host plant transpiration and amplified leaf surface temperature, as well as reduced leaf quality linked to the seasonal advance of plant phenology. Our results also identify multiannual summer droughts affecting larval growing periods as a key driver of the recently reported butterfly population declines in the Mediterranean biome. © 2018 The Authors. Journal of Animal Ecology © 2018 British Ecological Society

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Global trends in carbon sinks and their relationships with CO2 and temperature

Fernández-Martínez M., Sardans J., Chevallier F., Ciais P., Obersteiner M., Vicca S., Canadell J.G., Bastos A., Friedlingstein P., Sitch S., Piao S.L., Janssens I.A., Peñuelas J. (2019) Global trends in carbon sinks and their relationships with CO2 and temperature. Nature Climate Change. 9: 73-79.
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Doi: 10.1038/s41558-018-0367-7

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Elevated CO2 concentrations increase photosynthesis and, potentially, net ecosystem production (NEP), meaning a greater CO2 uptake. Climate, nutrients and ecosystem structure, however, influence the effect of increasing CO2. Here we analysed global NEP from MACC-II and Jena CarboScope atmospheric inversions and ten dynamic global vegetation models (TRENDY), using statistical models to attribute the trends in NEP to its potential drivers: CO2, climatic variables and land-use change. We found that an increased CO2 was consistently associated with an increased NEP (1995–2014). Conversely, increased temperatures were negatively associated with NEP. Using the two atmospheric inversions and TRENDY, the estimated global sensitivities for CO2 were 6.0 ± 0.1, 8.1 ± 0.3 and 3.1 ± 0.1 PgC per 100 ppm (~1 °C increase), and −0.5 ± 0.2, −0.9 ± 0.4 and −1.1 ± 0.1 PgC °C−1 for temperature. These results indicate a positive CO2 effect on terrestrial C sinks that is constrained by climate warming. © 2018, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

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Effects of past and current drought on the composition and diversity of soil microbial communities

Preece C., Verbruggen E., Liu L., Weedon J.T., Peñuelas J. (2019) Effects of past and current drought on the composition and diversity of soil microbial communities. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 131: 28-39.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2018.12.022

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Drought is well known to have strong effects on the composition and activity of soil microbial communities, and may be determined by drought history and drought duration, but the characterisation and prediction of these effects remains challenging. This is because soil microbial communities that have previously been exposed to drought may change less in response to subsequent drought events, due to the selection of drought-resistant taxa. We set up a 10-level drought experiment to test the effect of water stress on the composition and diversity of soil bacterial and fungal communities. We also investigated the effect of a previous long-term drought on communities in soils with different historical precipitation regimes. Saplings of the holm oak, Quercus ilex L., were included to assess the impact of plant presence on the effects of the drought treatment. The composition and diversity of the soil microbial communities were analysed using DNA amplicon sequencing of bacterial and fungal markers and the measurement of phospholipid fatty acids. The experimental drought affected the bacterial community much more than the fungal community, decreasing alpha diversity and proportion of total biomass, whereas fungal diversity tended to increase. The experimental drought altered the relative abundances of specific taxa of both bacteria and fungi, and in many cases these effects were modified by the presence of the plant and soil origin. Soils with a history of drought had higher overall bacterial alpha diversity at the end of the experimental drought, presumably because of adaptation of the bacterial community to drought conditions. However, some bacterial taxa (e.g. Chloroflexi) and fungal functional groups (plant pathogens and saprotrophic yeasts) decreased in abundance more in the pre-droughted soils. Our results suggest that soil communities will not necessarily be able to maintain the same functions during more extreme or more frequent future droughts, when functions are influenced by community composition. Drought is likely to continue to affect community composition, even in soils that are acclimated to it, tending to increase the proportion of fungi and reduce the proportion and diversity of bacteria. © 2018 Elsevier Ltd

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Atmo-ecometabolomics: a novel atmospheric particle chemical characterization methodology for ecological research

Rivas-Ubach A., Liu Y., Steiner A.L., Sardans J., Tfaily M.M., Kulkarni G., Kim Y.-M., Bourrianne E., Paša-Tolić L., Peñuelas J., Guenther A. (2019) Atmo-ecometabolomics: a novel atmospheric particle chemical characterization methodology for ecological research. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. 191: 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1007/s10661-019-7205-x

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Aerosol particles play important roles in processes controlling the composition of the atmosphere and function of ecosystems. A better understanding of the composition of aerosol particles is beginning to be recognized as critical for ecological research to further comprehend the link between aerosols and ecosystems. While chemical characterization of aerosols has been practiced in the atmospheric science community, detailed methodology tailored to the needs of ecological research does not exist yet. In this study, we describe an efficient methodology (atmo-ecometabolomics), in step-by-step details, from the sampling to the data analyses, to characterize the chemical composition of aerosol particles, namely atmo-metabolome. This method employs mass spectrometry platforms such as liquid and gas chromatography mass spectrometries (MS) and Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance MS (FT-ICR-MS). For methodology evaluation, we analyzed aerosol particles collected during two different seasons (spring and summer) in a low-biological-activity ecosystem. Additionally, to further validate our methodology, we analyzed aerosol particles collected in a more biologically active ecosystem during the pollination peaks of three different representative tree species. Our statistical results showed that our sampling and extraction methods are suitable for characterizing the atmo-ecometabolomes in these two distinct ecosystems with any of the analytical platforms. Datasets obtained from each mass spectrometry instrument showed overall significant differences of the atmo-ecometabolomes between spring and summer as well as between the three pollination peak periods. Furthermore, we have identified several metabolites that can be attributed to pollen and other plant-related aerosol particles. We additionally provide a basic guide of the potential use ecometabolomic techniques on different mass spectrometry platforms to accurately analyze the atmo-ecometabolomes for ecological studies. Our method represents an advanced novel approach for future studies in the impact of aerosol particle chemical compositions on ecosystem structure and function and biogeochemistry. © 2019, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

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We are what we eat: A stoichiometric and ecometabolomic study of caterpillars feeding on two pine subspecies of Pinus sylvestris

Rivas-Ubach A., Peñuelas J., Hódar J.A., Oravec M., Paša-Tolić L., Urban O., Sardans J. (2019) We are what we eat: A stoichiometric and ecometabolomic study of caterpillars feeding on two pine subspecies of Pinus sylvestris. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 20: 0-0.
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Doi: 10.3390/ijms20010059

Resumen:

Many studies have addressed several plant-insect interaction topics at nutritional, molecular, physiological, and evolutionary levels. However, it is still unknown how flexible the metabolism and the nutritional content of specialist insect herbivores feeding on different closely related plants can be. We performed elemental, stoichiometric, and metabolomics analyses on leaves of two coexisting Pinus sylvestris subspecies and on their main insect herbivore; the caterpillar of the processionary moth (Thaumetopoea pityocampa). Caterpillars feeding on different pine subspecies had distinct overall metabolome structure, accounting for over 10% of the total variability. Although plants and insects have very divergent metabolomes, caterpillars showed certain resemblance to their plant-host metabolome. In addition, few plant-related secondary metabolites were found accumulated in caterpillar tissues which could potentially be used for self-defense. Caterpillars feeding on N and P richer needles had lower N and P tissue concentration and higher C:N and C:P ratios, suggesting that nutrient transfer is not necessarily linear through trophic levels and other plant-metabolic factors could be interfering. This exploratory study showed that little chemical differences between plant food sources can impact the overall metabolome of specialist insect herbivores. Significant nutritional shifts in herbivore tissues could lead to larger changes of the trophic web structure. © 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

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Responses of forest ecosystems in Europe to decreasing nitrogen deposition

Schmitz A., Sanders T.G.M., Bolte A., Bussotti F., Dirnböck T., Johnson J., Peñuelas J., Pollastrini M., Prescher A.-K., Sardans J., Verstraeten A., de Vries W. (2019) Responses of forest ecosystems in Europe to decreasing nitrogen deposition. Environmental Pollution. : 980-994.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.09.101

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Average nitrogen (N) deposition across Europe has declined since the 1990s. This resulted in decreased N inputs to forest ecosystems especially in Central and Western Europe where deposition levels are highest. While the impact of atmospheric N deposition on forests has been receiving much attention for decades, ecosystem responses to the decline in N inputs received less attention. Here, we review observational studies reporting on trends in a number of indicators: soil acidification and eutrophication, understory vegetation, tree nutrition (foliar element concentrations) as well as tree vitality and growth in response to decreasing N deposition across Europe. Ecosystem responses varied with limited decrease in soil solution nitrate concentrations and potentially also foliar N concentrations. There was no large-scale response in understory vegetation, tree growth, or vitality. Experimental studies support the observation of a more distinct reaction of soil solution and foliar element concentrations to changes in N supply compared to the three other parameters. According to the most likely scenarios, further decrease of N deposition will be limited. We hypothesize that this expected decline will not cause major responses of the parameters analysed in this study. Instead, future changes might be more strongly controlled by the development of N pools accumulated within forest soils, affected by climate change and forest management. We find limited indication for response of Europe's forests to declining N deposition. Reactions have been reported for soil solution NO3 − and potentially foliar N concentrations but not for other indicators. © 2018 Elsevier Ltd

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Traditional plant functional groups explain variation in economic but not size-related traits across the tundra biome

Thomas H.J.D., Myers-Smith I.H., Bjorkman A.D., Elmendorf S.C., Blok D., Cornelissen J.H.C., Forbes B.C., Hollister R.D., Normand S., Prevéy J.S., Rixen C., Schaepman-Strub G., Wilmking M., Wipf S., Cornwell W.K., Kattge J., Goetz S.J., Guay K.C., Alatalo J.M., Anadon-Rosell A., Angers-Blondin S., Berner L.T., Björk R.G., Buchwal A., Buras A., Carbognani M., Christie K., Siegwart Collier L., Cooper E.J., Eskelinen A., Frei E.R., Grau O., Grogan P., Hallinger M., Heijmans M.M.P.D., Hermanutz L., Hudson J.M.G., Hülber K., Iturrate-Garcia M., Iversen C.M., Jaroszynska F., Johnstone J.F., Kaarlejärvi E., Kulonen A., Lamarque L.J., Lévesque E., Little C.J., Michelsen A., Milbau A., Nabe-Nielsen J., Nielsen S.S., Ninot J.M., Oberbauer S.F., Olofsson J., Onipchenko V.G., Petraglia A., Rumpf S.B., Semenchuk P.R., Soudzilovskaia N.A., Spasojevic M.J., Speed J.D.M., Tape K.D., te Beest M., Tomaselli M., Trant A., Treier U.A., Venn S., Vowles T., Weijers S., Zamin T., Atkin O.K., Bahn M., Blonder B., Campetella G., Cerabolini B.E.L., Chapin III F.S., Dainese M., de Vries F.T., Díaz S., Green W., Jackson R.B., Manning P., Niinemets Ü., Ozinga W.A., Peñuelas J., Reich P.B., Schamp B., Sheremetev S., van Bodegom P.M. (2019) Traditional plant functional groups explain variation in economic but not size-related traits across the tundra biome. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 28: 78-95.
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Doi: 10.1111/geb.12783

Resumen:

Aim: Plant functional groups are widely used in community ecology and earth system modelling to describe trait variation within and across plant communities. However, this approach rests on the assumption that functional groups explain a large proportion of trait variation among species. We test whether four commonly used plant functional groups represent variation in six ecologically important plant traits. Location: Tundra biome. Time period: Data collected between 1964 and 2016. Major taxa studied: 295 tundra vascular plant species. Methods: We compiled a database of six plant traits (plant height, leaf area, specific leaf area, leaf dry matter content, leaf nitrogen, seed mass) for tundra species. We examined the variation in species-level trait expression explained by four traditional functional groups (evergreen shrubs, deciduous shrubs, graminoids, forbs), and whether variation explained was dependent upon the traits included in analysis. We further compared the explanatory power and species composition of functional groups to alternative classifications generated using post hoc clustering of species-level traits. Results: Traditional functional groups explained significant differences in trait expression, particularly amongst traits associated with resource economics, which were consistent across sites and at the biome scale. However, functional groups explained 19% of overall trait variation and poorly represented differences in traits associated with plant size. Post hoc classification of species did not correspond well with traditional functional groups, and explained twice as much variation in species-level trait expression. Main conclusions: Traditional functional groups only coarsely represent variation in well-measured traits within tundra plant communities, and better explain resource economic traits than size-related traits. We recommend caution when using functional group approaches to predict tundra vegetation change, or ecosystem functions relating to plant size, such as albedo or carbon storage. We argue that alternative classifications or direct use of specific plant traits could provide new insights for ecological prediction and modelling. © 2018 The Authors Global Ecology and Biogeography Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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