skip to main content

Title: Characterizing Growing Season Length of Subtropical Coniferous Forests with a Phenological Model
Understanding plant phenological change is of great concern in the context of global climate change. Phenological models can aid in understanding and predicting growing season changes and can be parameterized with gross primary production (GPP) estimated using the eddy covariance (EC) technique. This study used nine years of EC-derived GPP data from three mature subtropical longleaf pine forests in the southeastern United States with differing soil water holding capacity in combination with site-specific micrometeorological data to parameterize a photosynthesis-based phenological model. We evaluated how weather conditions and prescribed fire led to variation in the ecosystem phenological processes. The results suggest that soil water availability had an effect on phenology, and greater soil water availability was associated with a longer growing season (LOS). We also observed that prescribed fire, a common forest management activity in the region, had a limited impact on phenological processes. Dormant season fire had no significant effect on phenological processes by site, but we observed differences in the start of the growing season (SOS) between fire and non-fire years. Fire delayed SOS by 10 d ± 5 d (SE), and this effect was greater with higher soil water availability, extending SOS by 18 d on average. Fire more » was also associated with increased sensitivity of spring phenology to radiation and air temperature. We found that interannual climate change and periodic weather anomalies (flood, short-term drought, and long-term drought), controlled annual ecosystem phenological processes more than prescribed fire. When water availability increased following short-term summer drought, the growing season was extended. With future climate change, subtropical areas of the Southeastern US are expected to experience more frequent short-term droughts, which could shorten the region’s growing season and lead to a reduction in the longleaf pine ecosystem’s carbon sequestration capacity. « less
; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1702996 1910811
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Climate change is likely to alter both flowering phenology and water availability for plants. Either of these changes alone can affect pollinator visitation and plant reproductive success. The relative impacts of phenology and water, and whether they interact in their impacts on plant reproductive success remain, however, largely unexplored. We manipulated flowering phenology and soil moisture in a factorial experiment with the subalpine perennial Mertensia ciliata (Boraginaceae). We examined responses of floral traits, floral abundance, pollinator visitation, and composition of visits by bumblebees vs. other pollinators. To determine the net effects on plant reproductive success, we also measured seed production and seed mass. Reduced water led to shorter, narrower flowers that produced less nectar. Late flowering plants produced fewer and shorter flowers. Both flowering phenology and water availability influenced pollination and reproductive success. Differences in flowering phenology had greater effects on pollinator visitation than did changes in water availability, but the reverse was true for seed production and mass, which were enhanced by greater water availability. The probability of receiving a flower visit declined over the season, coinciding with a decline in floral abundance in the arrays. Among plants receiving visits, both the visitation rate and percent of non-bumblebee visitorsmore »declined after the first week and remained low until the final week. We detected interactions of phenology and water on pollinator visitor composition, in which plants subject to drought were the only group to experience a late-season resurgence in visits by solitary bees and flies. Despite that interaction, net reproductive success measured as seed production responded additively to the two manipulations of water and phenology. Commonly observed declines in flower size and reward due to drought or shifts in phenology may not necessarily result in reduced plant reproductive success, which in M. ciliata responded more directly to water availability. The results highlight the need to go beyond studying single responses to climate changes, such as either phenology of a single species or how it experiences an abiotic factor, in order to understand how climate change may affect plant reproductive success.« less
  2. Abstract
    Excessive phosphorus (P) applications to croplands can contribute to eutrophication of surface waters through surface runoff and subsurface (leaching) losses. We analyzed leaching losses of total dissolved P (TDP) from no-till corn, hybrid poplar (Populus nigra X P. maximowiczii), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), miscanthus (Miscanthus giganteus), native grasses, and restored prairie, all planted in 2008 on former cropland in Michigan, USA. All crops except corn (13 kg P ha−1 year−1) were grown without P fertilization. Biomass was harvested at the end of each growing season except for poplar. Soil water at 1.2 m depth was sampled weekly to biweekly for TDP determination during March–November 2009–2016 using tension lysimeters. Soil test P (0–25 cm depth) was measured every autumn. Soil water TDP concentrations were usually below levels where eutrophication of surface waters is frequently observed (> 0.02 mg L−1) but often higher than in deep groundwater or nearby streams and lakes. Rates of P leaching, estimated from measured concentrations and modeled drainage, did not differ statistically among cropping systems across years; 7-year cropping system means ranged from 0.035 to 0.072 kg P ha−1 year−1 with large interannual variation. Leached P was positively related to STP, which decreased over the 7 years in all systems. These results indicate that both P-fertilized and unfertilized cropping systems mayMore>>
  3. Researchers are increasingly examining patterns and drivers of postfire forest recovery amid growing concern that climate change and intensifying fires will trigger ecosystem transformations. Diminished seed availability and postfire drought have emerged as key constraints on conifer recruitment. However, the spatial and temporal extent to which recurring modes of climatic variability shape patterns of postfire recovery remain largely unexplored. Here, we identify a north–south dipole in annual climatic moisture deficit anomalies across the Interior West of the US and characterize its influence on forest recovery from fire. We use annually resolved establishment models from dendrochronological records to correlate this climatic dipole with short-term postfire juvenile recruitment. We also examine longer-term recovery trajectories using Forest Inventory and Analysis data from 989 burned plots. We show that annual postfire ponderosa pine recruitment probabilities in the northern Rocky Mountains (NR) and the southwestern US (SW) track the strength of the dipole, while declining overall due to increasing aridity. This indicates that divergent recovery trajectories may be triggered concurrently across large spatial scales: favorable conditions in the SW can correspond to drought in the NR that inhibits ponderosa pine establishment, and vice versa. The imprint of this climatic dipole is manifest for years postfire,more »as evidenced by dampened long-term likelihoods of juvenile ponderosa pine presence in areas that experienced postfire drought. These findings underscore the importance of climatic variability at multiple spatiotemporal scales in driving cross-regional patterns of forest recovery and have implications for understanding ecosystem transformations and species range dynamics under global change.« less
  4. Fire causes abrupt changes in vegetation properties and modifies flux exchanges between land and atmosphere at subseasonal to seasonal scales. Yet these shortterm fire effects on vegetation dynamics and surface energy balance have not been comprehensively investigated in the fire-coupled vegetation model. This study applies the SSiB4/TRIFFID-Fire (the Simplified Simple Biosphere Model coupled with the Top-down Representation of Interactive Foliage and Flora Including Dynamics with fire) model to study the short-term fire impact in southern Africa. Specifically, we aim to quantify how large impacts fire exerts on surface energy through disturbances on vegetation dynamics, how fire effects evolve during the fire season and the subsequent rainy season, and how surface-darkening effects play a role besides the vegetation change effects. We find fire causes an annual average reduction in grass cover by 4 %–8% for widespread areas between 5–20 S and a tree cover reduction by 1% at the southern periphery of tropical rainforests. The regional fire effects accumulate during June–October and peak in November, the beginning of the rainy season. After the fire season ends, the grass cover quickly returns to unburned conditions, while the tree fraction hardly recovers in one rainy season. The vegetation removal by fire has reducedmore »the leaf area index (LAI) and gross primary productivity (GPP) by 3 %–5% and 5 %–7% annually. The exposure of bare soil enhances surface albedo and therefore decreases the absorption of shortwave radiation. Annual mean sensible heat has dropped by 1.4Wm−2, while the latent heat reduction is small (0.1Wm−2/ due to the evaporation. Surface temperature is increased by as much as 0.33K due to the decrease of sensible heat fluxes, and the warming would be enhanced when the surface-darkening effect is incorporated. Our results suggest that fire effects in grass-dominant areas diminish within 1 year due to the high resilience of grasses after fire. Yet fire effects in the periphery of tropical forests are irreversible within one growing season and can cause large-scale deforestation if accumulated for hundreds of years.« less
  5. Abstract

    The response of plant leaf and root phenology and biomass in the Arctic to global change remains unclear due to the lack of synchronous measurements of above- and belowground parts. Our objective was to determine the phenological dynamics of the above- and belowground parts of Eriophorum vaginatum in the Arctic and its response to warming. We established a common garden located at Toolik Lake Field Station; tussocks of E. vaginatum from three locations, Coldfoot, Toolik Lake and Sagwon, were transplanted into the common garden. Control and warming treatments for E. vaginatum were set up at the Toolik Lake during the growing seasons of 2016 and 2017. Digital cameras, a handheld sensor and minirhizotrons were used to simultaneously observe leaf greenness, normalized difference vegetation index and root length dynamics, respectively. Leaf and root growth rates of E. vaginatum were asynchronous such that the timing of maximal leaf growth (mid-July) was about 28 days earlier than that of root growth. Warming of air temperature by 1 °C delayed the timing of leaf senescence and thus prolonged the growing season, but the temperature increase had no significant effect on root phenology. The seasonal dynamics of leaf biomass were affected by air temperature,more »whereas root biomass was correlated with soil thaw depth. Therefore, we suggest that leaf and root components should be considered comprehensively when using carbon and nutrient cycle models, as above- and belowground productivity and functional traits may have a different response to climate warming.

    « less