Productivity of Montane Meadows in a Warming World: Evidence from an Elevation Gradient and a Warming Experiment
AdvisorEnquist, Brian J.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractClimate change is expected to disproportionately impact high elevation ecosystems by disrupting current temperature and precipitation regimes. The future carbon balance of these systems is uncertain, given the interplay between longer growing season length and the potential for increased drought. Currently, the most robust inferences about ecosystem responses to changing climate come from the integration of experimental and observational methods. In this thesis, I utilize evidence from a warming experiment and an elevational gradient to gain insights into how aspects of ecosystem productivity and community functional composition change in response to the abiotic environment. First, I show that ecosystem productivity was similar in the heated and ambient treatment groups of the warming experiment. Net ecosystem productivity (NEP) was similar between treatments with only slightly increased NEP in the early season in the heated treatment. Important leaf functional traits (leaf mass per area, LMA; leaf dry matter content, LDMC) shifted with heating in directions associated with higher productivity, both at the community level and within species. While these results are counterintuitive, potential insight was provided by a soil cooling effect found in the heated plots in the early season. Second, I investigate ecosystem productivity across spatial and temporal gradients using phenology cameras. I show strong relationships between greenness indices generated from camera images and on-the-ground measurements of gross primary productivity (GPP). I also used changes in greenness indices early season to infer green-up rates, and found a strong pattern of increasing green-up rate with increasing elevation. Together, these studies highlight the importance of comparing experimental and gradient methods to assess how different spatial and temporal scales influence our conclusions about the effect of climate change on ecosystems.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology