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  1. Le_Bagousse-Pinguet, Yoann (Ed.)
    Root production influences carbon and nutrient cycles and subsidizes soil biodiversity. However, the long‐term dynamics and drivers of belowground production are poorly understood for most ecosystems. In drylands, fire, eutrophication, and precipitation regimes could affect not only root production but also how roots track interannual variability in climate. We manipulated the intra‐annual precipitation regime, soil nitrogen, and fire in four common Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem types (three grasslands and one shrubland) in New Mexico, USA, where the 100‐year record indicates both long‐term drying and increasing interannual variability in aridity. First, we evaluated how root production tracked aridity over 10–17 years using climate sensitivity functions, which quantify long‐term, nonlinear relationships between biological processes and climate. Next, we determined the degree to which perturbations by fire, nitrogen addition or intra‐annual rainfall altered the sensitivity of root production to both mean and interannual variability in aridity. All ecosystems had nonlinear climate sensitivities that predicted declines in production with increases in the interannual variance of aridity. However, root production was the most sensitive to aridity in Chihuahuan Desert shrubland, with reduced production under drier and more variable aridity. Among the perturbations, only fire altered the sensitivity of root production to aridity. Root production was more than twice as sensitive to declines with aridity following prescribed fire than in unburned conditions. Neither the intra‐annual seasonal rainfall regime nor chronic nitrogen fertilization altered the sensitivity of roots to aridity. Our results yield new insight into how dryland plant roots respond to climate change. Our comparison of dryland ecosystems of the northern Chihuahuan Desert predicted that root production in shrublands would be more sensitive to future climates that are drier and more variable than root production in dry grasslands. Field manipulations revealed that fire could amplify the climate sensitivity of dry grassland root production, but in contrast, the climate sensitivity of root production was largely resistant to changes in the seasonal rainfall regime or increased soil fertilization. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 20, 2025
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 11, 2025
  3. Primary productivity response to climatic drivers varies temporally, indicating state-dependent interactions between climate and productivity. Previous studies primarily employed equation-based approaches to clarify this relationship, ignoring the state-dependent nature of ecological dynamics. Here, using 40 y of climate and productivity data from 48 grassland sites across Mongolia, we applied an equation-free, nonlinear time-series analysis to reveal sensitivity patterns of productivity to climate change and variability and clarify underlying mechanisms. We showed that productivity responded positively to annual precipitation in mesic regions but negatively in arid regions, with the opposite pattern observed for annual mean temperature. Furthermore, productivity responded negatively to decreasing annual aridity that integrated precipitation and temperature across Mongolia. Productivity responded negatively to interannual variability in precipitation and aridity in mesic regions but positively in arid regions. Overall, interannual temperature variability enhanced productivity. These response patterns are largely unrecognized; however, two mechanisms are inferable. First, time-delayed climate effects modify annual productivity responses to annual climate conditions. Notably, our results suggest that the sensitivity of annual productivity to increasing annual precipitation and decreasing annual aridity can even be negative when the negative time-delayed effects of annual precipitation and aridity on productivity prevail across time. Second, the proportion of plant species resistant to water and temperature stresses at a site determines the sensitivity of productivity to climate variability. Thus, we highlight the importance of nonlinear, state-dependent sensitivity of productivity to climate change and variability, accurately forecasting potential biosphere feedback to the climate system.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 29, 2024
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  5. Abstract

    Both theory and prior studies predict that climate warming should increase attack rates by herbivores and pathogens on plants. However, past work has often assumed that variation in abiotic conditions other than temperature (e.g. precipitation) do not alter warming responses of plant damage by natural enemies. Studies over short time periods span low variation in weather, and studies over long time‐scales often neglect to account for fine‐scale weather conditions.

    Here, we used a 20+ year warming experiment to investigate if warming affects on herbivory and pathogen disease are dependent on variation in ambient weather observed over 3 years. We studied three common grass species in a subalpine meadow in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, USA. We visually estimated herbivory and disease every 2 weeks during the growing season and evaluated weather conditions during the previous 2‐ or 4‐week time interval (2‐week average air temperature, 2‐ and 4‐week cumulative precipitation) as predictors of the probability and amount of damage.

    Herbivore attack was 13% more likely and damage amount was 29% greater in warmed plots than controls across the focal species but warming treatment had little affect on plant disease. Herbivory presence and damage increased the most with experimental warming when preceded by wetter, rather than drier, fine‐scale weather, but preceding ambient temperature did not strongly interact with elevated warming to influence herbivory.

    Disease presence and amount increased, on average, with warmer weather and more precipitation regardless of warming.

    Synthesis. The effect of warming over reference climate on herbivore damage is dependent on and amplified by fine‐scale weather variation, suggesting more boom‐and‐bust damage dynamics with increasing climate variability. However, the mean effect of regional climate change is likely reduced monsoon rainfall, for which we predict a reduction in insect herbivore damage. Plant disease was generally unresponsive to warming, which may be a consequence of our coarse disease estimates that did not track specific pathogen species or guilds. The results point towards temperature as an important but not sufficient determinant and regulator of species interactions, where precipitation and other constraints may determine the affect of warming.

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  6. This study was designed to examine community- or population-level fluctuations in bee species at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, both intra- and inter-annually. From 2002 to 2019, passive funnel traps were used to collect bees at three sites, each representing a different ecosystem type of the southwestern U.S. (Plains grassland, Chihuahuan Desert grassland, and Chihuahuan Desert shrubland). Bees were collected during each month from March through October, and were identified to species by taxonomic experts. 
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  7. This dataset includes estimated plant aboveground live biomass data measured in 1 m x 1 m quadrats at several sites and experiments under the Sevilleta LTER program. Quadrat locations span four distinct ecosystems and their ecotones: creosotebush dominated Chihuahuan Desert shrubland (est. winter 1999), black grama-dominated Chihuahuan Desert grassland (est. winter 1999), blue grama-dominated Plains grassland (est. winter 2002), and pinon-juniper woodland (est. winter 2003). Data on plant cover and height for each plant species are collected per individual plant or patch (for clonal plants) within 1 m x 1 m quadrats. These data inform population dynamics of foundational and rare plant species. Biomass is estimated using plant allometries from non-destructive measurements of plant cover and height, and can be used to calculate net primary production (NPP), a fundamental ecosystem variable that quantifies rates of carbon consumption and fixation. Estimates of plant species cover, total plant biomass, or NPP can inform understanding of biodiversity, species composition, and energy flow at the community scale of biological organization, as well as spatial and temporal responses of plants to a range of ecological processes and direct experimental manipulations. The cover and height of individual plants or patches are sampled twice yearly (spring and fall) in permanent 1m x 1m plots within each site or experiment. This dataset includes core site monitoring data (CORE, GRIDS, ISOWEB, TOWER), observations in response to wildfire (BURN), and experimental treatments of extreme drought and delayed monsoon rainfall (EDGE), physical disturbance to biological soil crusts on the soil surface (CRUST), interannual variability in precipitation (MEANVAR), intra-annual variability via additions of monsoon rainfall (MRME), additions of nitrogen as ammonium nitrate (FERTILIZER), additions of nitrogen x phosphorus x potassium (NutNet), and interacting effects of nighttime warming, nitrogen addition, and El Niño winter rainfall (WENNDEx). To build allometric equations that relate biomass to plant cover or volume, the dataset "SEV-LTER quadrat plant cover and height data all sites and experiments" is used with a separate dataset of selectively harvested plant species "SEV-LTER Plant species mass data for allometry." Together, these datasets produced “SEV-LTER quadrat plant species biomass all sites and experiments” using the scripts posted with the allometry dataset. Data from the CORE sites in this dataset were designated as NA-US-011 in the Global Index of Vegetation-Plot Databases (GIVD). Data from the TOWER sites in this dataset are linked to Ameriflux sites: and 
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  8. Abstract

    Fungal symbionts can buffer plants from environmental extremes and may affect host capacities to acclimate, adapt, or redistribute under environmental change; however, the distributions of fungal symbionts along abiotic gradients are poorly described. Fungal mutualists should be the most beneficial in abiotically stressful environments, and the structure of networks of plant-fungal interactions likely shift along gradients, even when fungal community composition does not track environmental stress. We sampled 634 unique combinations of fungal endophytes and mycorrhizal fungi, grass species identities, and sampling locations from 66 sites across six replicate altitudinal gradients in the western Colorado Rocky Mountains. The diversity and composition of leaf endophytic, root endophytic, and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal guilds and the overall abundance of fungal functional groups (pathogens, saprotrophs, mutualists) tracked grass host identity more closely than elevation. Network structures of root endophytes become more nested and less specialized at higher elevations, but network structures of other fungal guilds did not vary with elevation. Overall, grass species identity had overriding influence on the diversity and composition of above- and belowground fungal endophytes and AM fungi, despite large environmental variation. Therefore, in our system climate change may rarely directly affect fungal symbionts. Instead, fungal symbiont distributions will most likely track the range dynamics of host grasses.

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