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  1. Abstract

    The expansion of many wetland species is a function of both clonal propagation and sexual reproduction. The production of ramets through clonal propagation enables plants to move and occupy space near parent ramets, while seeds produced by sexual reproduction enable species to disperse and colonize open or disturbed sites both near and far from parents. The balance between clonal propagation and sexual reproduction is known to vary with plant density but few studies have focused on reproductive allocation with density changes in response to global climate change.Schoenoplectus americanusis a widespread clonal wetland species in North America and a dominant species in Chesapeake Bay brackish tidal wetlands. Long-term experiments on responses ofS.americanusto global change provided the opportunity to compare the two modes of propagation under different treatments. Seed production increased with increasing shoot density, supporting the hypothesis that factors causing increased clonal reproduction (e.g., higher shoot density) stimulate sexual reproduction and dispersal of genets. The increase in allocation to sexual reproduction was mainly the result of an increase in the number of ramets that flowered and not an increase in the number of seeds per reproductive shoot, or the ratio between the number of flowers produced per inflorescence and the number of flowers that developed into seeds. Seed production increased in response to increasing temperatures and decreased or did not change in response to increased CO2or nitrogen. Results from this comparative study demonstrate that plant responses to global change treatments affect resource allocation and can alter the ability of species to produce seeds.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2025
  2. Abstract

    Responses of the terrestrial biosphere to rapidly changing environmental conditions are a major source of uncertainty in climate projections. In an effort to reduce this uncertainty, a wide range of global change experiments have been conducted that mimic future conditions in terrestrial ecosystems, manipulating CO2, temperature, and nutrient and water availability. Syntheses of results across experiments provide a more general sense of ecosystem responses to global change, and help to discern the influence of background conditions such as climate and vegetation type in determining global change responses. Several independent syntheses of published data have yielded distinct databases for specific objectives. Such parallel, uncoordinated initiatives carry the risk of producing redundant data collection efforts and have led to contrasting outcomes without clarifying the underlying reason for divergence. These problems could be avoided by creating a publicly available, updatable, curated database. Here, we report on a global effort to collect and curate 57,089 treatment responses across 3644 manipulation experiments at 1145 sites, simulating elevated CO2, warming, nutrient addition, and precipitation changes. In the resulting Manipulation Experiments Synthesis Initiative (MESI) database, effects of experimental global change drivers on carbon and nutrient cycles are included, as well as ancillary data such as background climate, vegetation type, treatment magnitude, duration, and, unique to our database, measured soil properties. Our analysis of the database indicates that most experiments are short term (one or few growing seasons), conducted in the USA, Europe, or China, and that the most abundantly reported variable is aboveground biomass. We provide the most comprehensive multifactor global change database to date, enabling the research community to tackle open research questions, vital to global policymaking. The MESI database, freely accessible atdoi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7153253, opens new avenues for model evaluation and synthesis‐based understanding of how global change affects terrestrial biomes. We welcome contributions to the database on GitHub.

     
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  3. Accelerating sea-level rise will overwhelm the beneficial effects of elevated CO 2 on coastal wetland plant growth. 
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  4. Tidal marsh plant species commonly zonate along environmental gradients such as elevation, but it is not always clear to what extent plant distribution is driven by abiotic factors vs. biotic interactions. Yet, the distinction has importance for how plant communities will respond to future change such as higher sea level, particularly given the distinct flooding tolerances and contributions to elevation gain of different species. We used observations from a 33-year experiment to determine co-occurrence patterns for the sedge, Schoenoplectus americanus, and two C4 grasses, Spartina patens and Distichlis spicata, to infer functional group interactions. Then, we conducted a functional group removal experiment to directly assess the interaction between sedge and grasses throughout the range in which they cooccur. The observational record suggested negative interactions between sedge and grasses across sedge- and grass-dominated plots, though the relationship weakened in years with greater flooding stress. The removal experiment revealed mutual release effects, indicating competition was the predominant interaction, and here, too, competition tended to weaken, though nonsignificantly, in more flooded, lower elevation zones. Whereas zonation patterns in undisturbed portions of marsh suggest that the sedge will dominate this marsh as flooding stress increases with sea level rise, we propose that grasses may exhibit a competition release effect and contribute to biomass and elevation gain even in sedge-dominated communities as sea level continues to rise. Even as abiotic stresses drive changes in the relative contributions of sedges and grasses, competition among them moderates fluctuations in total plant biomass production through time. 
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  5. Abstract

    Mangrove trees are invading saltmarshes at subtropical ecotones globally, but the consequences of this vegetation shift for ecosystem sustainability remain unknown. Using the Coastal Wetland Equilibrium Model (CWEM) to simulate vegetation survival and sediment accretion, we predict that black mangroves,Avicennia germinans, can build soil elevation by 8 mm yr−1, four times greater than saltmarshes at the same site, a finding that is broadly consistent with field measurements of elevation change. Mangroves build elevation more rapidly than saltmarshes by producing much greater live and labile belowground biomass, but when mangroves drown, they abruptly lose elevation due to the large volume of quickly decomposing necromass following flood‐induced mortality. Under certain conditions, young mangroves can accumulate root mass faster than mature trees and, therefore, gain elevation more rapidly, but neither saltmarshes nor mangroves of any age survived a centenary sea‐level increase of 100 cm. The acceleration of sea‐level rise that coastal marshes are encountering raises the question of how coastal wetlands should be optimally managed and these results provide managers with predictive information on wetland building capacity of mangroves versus marshes.

     
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  7. Plants are subject to tradeoffs among growth strategies such that adaptations for optimal growth in one condition can preclude optimal growth in another. Thus, we predicted that a plant species that responds positively to one global change treatment would be less likely than average to respond positively to another treatment, particularly for pairs of treatments that favor distinct traits. We examined plant species abundances in 39 global change experiments manipulating two or more of the following: CO2, nitrogen, phosphorus, water, temperature, or disturbance. Overall, the directional response of a species to one treatment was 13% more likely than expected to oppose its response to a another single-factor treatment. This tendency was detectable across the global dataset but held little predictive power for individual treatment combinations or within individual experiments. While tradeoffs in the ability to respond to different global change treatments exert discernible global effects, other forces obscure their influence in local communities. 
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