Changing Climate Alters Plant Communities


A long-term ecosystem manipulation study was conducted in an old-field ecosystem on the Oak Ridge Reservation. Temperature, precipitation, and atmospheric carbon dioxide were manipulated over several years. The study found that while precipitation was the dominant factor, all manipulated factors impacted plant productivity and community structure. Plant species differed in their responses to each climate change factor, resulting in changes in the composition of the plant community. Such compositional shifts can alter ecosystem biomass production and nutrient inputs, and are an important part of ecosystem response to climatic change. This study highlights the complexity of understanding ecosystems and their responses to change.


Kardol, P; C. Campany; L. Souza; R. Norby; J. Weltzin and A. Classen; 2010. “Climate change effects on plant biomass alter dominance patterns and community evenness in an experimental old-field ecosystem,” Global Change Biology, 16, 2676–2687, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02162.x