Whole-system responses of experimental plant communities to climate extremes imposed in different seasons
Article first published online: 4 NOV 2010
© 2010 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2010 New Phytologist Trust
Special Issue: Featured papers on ‘Unearthing the truffle genome’
Volume 189, Issue 3, pages 806–817, February 2011
How to Cite
De Boeck, H. J., Dreesen, F. E., Janssens, I. A. and Nijs, I. (2011), Whole-system responses of experimental plant communities to climate extremes imposed in different seasons. New Phytologist, 189: 806–817. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2010.03515.x
- Issue published online: 12 JAN 2011
- Article first published online: 4 NOV 2010
- Received: 28 July 2010, Accepted: 16 September 2010
- CO2 fluxes;
- extreme events;
- heat wave;
- •Discrete climate events such as heat waves and droughts can have a disproportionate impact on ecosystems relative to the temporal scale over which they occur. Research oriented towards (extreme) events rather than (gradual) trends is therefore urgently needed.
- •Here, we imposed heat waves and droughts (50-yr return time) in a full factorial design on experimental plant communities in spring, summer or autumn. Droughts were created by removing the controlled water table (rainout shelters prevented precipitation), while heat waves were imposed with infrared heaters.
- •Measurements of whole-system CO2 exchange, growth and biomass production revealed multiple interactions between treatments and the season in which they occurred. Heat waves had only small and transient effects, with infrared imaging showing little heat stress because of transpirational cooling. If heat waves were combined with drought, negative effects observed in single factor drought treatments were exacerbated through intensified soil drying, and heat stress in summer. Plant recovery from stress differed, affecting the biomass yield.
- •In conclusion, the timing of extreme events is critical regarding their impact, and synergisms between heat waves and drought aggravate the negative effects of these extremes on plant growth and functioning.