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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  2. null (Ed.)
  3. Abstract

    Soil and plant responses to climate change can be quantified in controlled settings. However, the complexity of climate projections often leads researchers to evaluate ecosystem response based on general trends, rather than specific climate model outputs. Climate projections capture spatial and temporal climate extremes and variability that are lost when using mean climate trends. In addition, application of climate projections in experimental settings remains limited. Our objective was to develop a framework to incorporate statistically downscaled climate model projections into the design of temperature and precipitation treatments for ecological experiments. To demonstrate the utility of experimental treatments derived from climate projections, we used wetlands in the Great Plains as a model ecosystem for evaluating plant and soil responses. Spatial and temporal projections were selected to capture variability and intensity of projected future conditions for exemplary purposes. To illustrate climate projection application for ecological experiments, we developed temperature and precipitation treatments based on moderate‐emissions scenario climate outputs (i.e.,RCP4.5–650 ppmCO2equivalent). Our temperature treatments captured weekly trends that represented cool, average, and warm temperature predictions, and our daily precipitation treatments mimicked various seasonal precipitation trends and extreme events projected for the late 21st century. Treatments were applied to two short‐term controlled experiments evaluating (1) plant germination (temperature treatment applied in growth chamber) and (2) soil nitrogen cycling (precipitation treatment applied in greenhouse) responses to projected future conditions in the Great Plains. Our approach provides flexibility for selecting appropriate and precise climate model outputs to design experimental treatments. Using these techniques, ecologists can better incorporate variation in climate model projections for experimentally evaluating ecosystem responses to future climate conditions, reduce uncertainty in predictive ecological models, and apply predicted outcomes when making management and policy decisions.

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