Present address: School of Mathematical Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, GPO Box 2434, Brisbane, 4001, Qld, Australia.
REVIEW AND SYNTHESES
Global assessment of experimental climate warming on tundra vegetation: heterogeneity over space and time
Article first published online: 5 DEC 2011
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS
Volume 15, Issue 2, pages 164–175, February 2012
How to Cite
Elmendorf, S. C., Henry, G. H. R., Hollister, R. D., Björk, R. G., Bjorkman, A. D., Callaghan, T. V., Collier, L. S., Cooper, E. J., Cornelissen, J. H. C., Day, T. A., Fosaa, A. M., Gould, W. A., Grétarsdóttir, J., Harte, J., Hermanutz, L., Hik, D. S., Hofgaard, A., Jarrad, F., Jónsdóttir, I. S., Keuper, F., Klanderud, K., Klein, J. A., Koh, S., Kudo, G., Lang, S. I., Loewen, V., May, J. L., Mercado, J., Michelsen, A., Molau, U., Myers-Smith, I. H., Oberbauer, S. F., Pieper, S., Post, E., Rixen, C., Robinson, C. H., Schmidt, N. M., Shaver, G. R., Stenström, A., Tolvanen, A., Totland, Ø., Troxler, T., Wahren, C.-H., Webber, P. J., Welker, J. M. and Wookey, P. A. (2012), Global assessment of experimental climate warming on tundra vegetation: heterogeneity over space and time. Ecology Letters, 15: 164–175. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01716.x
- Issue published online: 4 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 5 DEC 2011
- Editor, Wilfried Thuiller, Manuscript received 9 September 2011, First decision 12 October 2011, Manuscript accepted 5 November 2011
- climate warming;
- long-term experiment;
Ecology Letters (2011)
Understanding the sensitivity of tundra vegetation to climate warming is critical to forecasting future biodiversity and vegetation feedbacks to climate. In situ warming experiments accelerate climate change on a small scale to forecast responses of local plant communities. Limitations of this approach include the apparent site-specificity of results and uncertainty about the power of short-term studies to anticipate longer term change. We address these issues with a synthesis of 61 experimental warming studies, of up to 20 years duration, in tundra sites worldwide. The response of plant groups to warming often differed with ambient summer temperature, soil moisture and experimental duration. Shrubs increased with warming only where ambient temperature was high, whereas graminoids increased primarily in the coldest study sites. Linear increases in effect size over time were frequently observed. There was little indication of saturating or accelerating effects, as would be predicted if negative or positive vegetation feedbacks were common. These results indicate that tundra vegetation exhibits strong regional variation in response to warming, and that in vulnerable regions, cumulative effects of long-term warming on tundra vegetation – and associated ecosystem consequences – have the potential to be much greater than we have observed to date.