Plants reverse warming effect on ecosystem water balance

Erika S. Zavaleta, Brian D. Thomas, Nona R. Chiariello, Gregory P. Asner, M. Rebecca Shaw, Christopher B. Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

100 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Models predict that global warming may increase aridity in water-limited ecosystems by accelerating evapotranspiration. We show that interactions between warming and the dominant biota in a grassland ecosystem produced the reverse effect. In a 2-year field experiment, simulated warming increased spring soil moisture by 5-10% under both ambient and elevated CO2. Warming also accelerated the decline of canopy greenness (normalized difference vegetation index) each spring by 11-17% by inducing earlier plant senescence. Lower transpirational water losses resulting from this earlier senescence provide a mechanism for the unexpected rise in soil moisture. Our findings illustrate the potential for organism-environment interactions to modify the direction as well as the magnitude of global change effects on ecosystem functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9892-9893
Number of pages2
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume100
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 19 2003
Externally publishedYes

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Ecosystem
Water
Soil
Global Warming
Biota
Grassland
Direction compound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General
  • Genetics

Cite this

Plants reverse warming effect on ecosystem water balance. / Zavaleta, Erika S.; Thomas, Brian D.; Chiariello, Nona R.; Asner, Gregory P.; Shaw, M. Rebecca; Field, Christopher B.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 100, No. 17, 19.08.2003, p. 9892-9893.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Zavaleta, Erika S. ; Thomas, Brian D. ; Chiariello, Nona R. ; Asner, Gregory P. ; Shaw, M. Rebecca ; Field, Christopher B. / Plants reverse warming effect on ecosystem water balance. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2003 ; Vol. 100, No. 17. pp. 9892-9893.
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