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Keywords:

  • latitude;
  • plant functional types;
  • plant growth;
  • precipitation;
  • temperature

Summary

  • Growth of terrestrial plant species and functional types (PFTs) in response to climate warming determines future dynamics of terrestrial vegetation.
  • Here, a meta-analysis was conducted with data collected from 127 publications to reveal general patterns of biomass responses of terrestrial plants to warming.
  • Warming significantly increased biomass by 12.3% (with a 95% confidence interval of 8.4–16.3%) across all the terrestrial plants included. However, biomass responses were dependent upon PFTs, with significantly greater stimulation of woody (+26.7%) than herbaceous species (+5.2%). Warming effects on biomass showed quadratic relationships with both latitude and mean annual temperature, but did not change with mean annual precipitation or experimental duration. In addition, the other treatments, including CO2 enrichment, nitrogen addition, drought and water addition, did not alter warming responses of plant biomass.
  • Dependence of the terrestrial plant biomass responses to warming upon PFTs, geographic and climatic factors as well as warming magnitudes will have consequent influences on community composition and structure, vegetation dynamics, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in a warmer world. Our findings of functional type-specific responses of terrestrial plants are critical for improving predictions of climate-terrestrial carbon feedbacks.