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  1. Abstract

    Stormwater is a vital resource and dynamic driver of terrestrial ecosystem processes. However, processes controlling interactions during and shortly after storms are often poorly seen and poorly sensed when direct observations are substituted with technological ones. We discuss how human observations complement technological ones and the benefits of scientists spending more time in the storm. Human observation can reveal ephemeral storm-related phenomena such as biogeochemical hot moments, organismal responses, and sedimentary processes that can then be explored in greater resolution using sensors and virtual experiments. Storm-related phenomena trigger lasting, oversized impacts on hydrologic and biogeochemical processes, organismal traits or functions, and ecosystem services at all scales. We provide examples of phenomena in forests, across disciplines and scales, that have been overlooked in past research to inspire mindful, holistic observation of ecosystems during storms. We conclude that technological observations alone are insufficient to trace the process complexity and unpredictability of fleeting biogeochemical or ecological events without the shower thoughts produced by scientists’ human sensory and cognitive systems during storms.

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  2. Abstract

    The effects of climate change on plants and ecosystems are mediated by plant hydraulic traits, including interspecific and intraspecific variability of trait phenotypes. Yet, integrative and realistic studies of hydraulic traits and climate change are rare. In a semiarid grassland, we assessed the response of several plant hydraulic traits to elevated CO2(+200 ppm) and warming (+1.5 to 3°C; day to night). For leaves of five dominant species (three graminoids and two forbs), and in replicated plots exposed to 7 years of elevated CO2, warming, or ambient climate, we measured: stomatal density and size, xylem vessel size, turgor loss point, and water potential (pre‐dawn). Interspecific differences in hydraulic traits were larger than intraspecific shifts induced by elevated CO2and/or warming. Effects of elevated CO2were greater than effects of warming, and interactions between treatments were weak or not detected. The forbs showed little phenotypic plasticity. The graminoids had leaf water potentials and turgor loss points that were 10% to 50% less negative under elevated CO2; thus, climate change might cause these species to adjust their drought resistance strategy away from tolerance and toward avoidance. The C4 grass also reduced allocation of leaf area to stomata under elevated CO2, which helps explain observations of higher soil moisture. The shifts in hydraulic traits under elevated CO2were not, however, simply due to higher soil moisture. Integration of our results with others' indicates that common species in this grassland are more likely to adjust stomatal aperture in response to near‐term climate change, rather than anatomical traits; this contrasts with apparent effects of changing CO2on plant anatomy over evolutionary time. Future studies should assess how plant responses to drought may be constrained by the apparent shift from tolerance (via low turgor loss point) to avoidance (via stomatal regulation and/or access to deeper soil moisture).

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  3. Abstract

    Rising atmospheric CO2concentrations have increased interest in the potential for forest ecosystems and soils to act as carbon (C) sinks. While soil organic C contents often vary with tree species identity, little is known about if, and how, tree species influence thestabilityof C in soil. Using a 40 year old common garden experiment with replicated plots of eleven temperate tree species, we investigated relationships between soil organic matter (SOM) stability in mineral soils and 17 ecological factors (including tree tissue chemistry, magnitude of organic matter inputs to the soil and their turnover, microbial community descriptors, and soil physicochemical properties). We measured five SOM stability indices, including heterotrophic respiration, C in aggregate occluded particulate organic matter (POM) and mineral associated SOM, and bulk SOM δ15N and ∆14C. The stability of SOM varied substantially among tree species, and this variability was independent of the amount of organic C in soils. Thus, when considering forest soils as C sinks, the stability of C stocks must be considered in addition to their size. Further, our results suggest tree species regulate soil C stability via the composition of their tissues, especially roots. Stability of SOM appeared to be greater (as indicated by higher δ15N and reduced respiration) beneath species with higher concentrations of nitrogen and lower amounts of acid insoluble compounds in their roots, while SOM stability appeared to be lower (as indicated by higher respiration and lower proportions of C in aggregate occluded POM) beneath species with higher tissue calcium contents. The proportion of C in mineral associated SOM and bulk soil ∆14C, though, were negligibly dependent on tree species traits, likely reflecting an insensitivity of some SOM pools to decadal scale shifts in ecological factors. Strategies aiming to increase soil C stocks may thus focus on particulate C pools, which can more easily be manipulated and are most sensitive to climate change.

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  4. Abstract

    Temporal variation in soil nitrogen (N) availability affects growth of grassland communities that differ in their use and reuse of N. In a 7‐year‐long climate change experiment in a semi‐arid grassland, the temporal stability of plant biomass production varied with plant N turnover (reliance on externally acquired N relative to internally recycled N). Species with high N turnover were less stable in time compared to species with low N turnover. In contrast, N turnover at the community level was positively associated with asynchrony in biomass production, which in turn increased community temporal stability. ElevatedCO2and summer irrigation, but not warming, enhanced community N turnover and stability, possibly because treatments promoted greater abundance of species with high N turnover. Our study highlights the importance of plant N turnover for determining the temporal stability of individual species and plant communities affected by climate change.

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