Implications of patterns of carbon pools and fluxes across a semiarid environmental gradient

Klopatek, JM, Conant, RT, Francis, JM, Malin, RA, Murphy, KL, & Klopatek, CC (1998) Implications of patterns of carbon pools and fluxes across a semiarid environmental gradient. Landscape and Urban Planning, 39(4), pp. 309-317.

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Landscape scale environmental gradients present variable spatial patterns and ecological processes caused by climate, topography and soil characteristics and, as such, offer candidate sites to study environmental change. Data are presented on the spatial pattern of dominant species, biomass, and carbon pools and the temporal pattern of fluxes across a transitional zone shifting from Great Basin Desert scrub, up through pinyon-juniper woodlands and into ponderosa pine forest and the ecotones between each vegetation type. The mean annual temperature (MAT) difference across the gradient is approximately 3 degrees C from bottom to top (MAT 8.5-5.5) and annual precipitation averages from 320 to 530 mm/yr, respectively. The stems of the dominant woody vegetation approach a random spatial pattern across the entire gradient, while the canopy cover shows a clustered pattern. The size of the clusters increases with elevation according to available soil moisture which in turn affects available nutrient resources. The total density of woody species declines with increasing soil moisture along the gl-adient, but total biomass increases. Belowground carbon and nutrient pools change from a heterogenous to a homogenous distribution on either side of the woodlands. Although temperature controls the: seasonal patterns of carbon efflux from the soils, soil moisture appears to be the primary driving variable, but response differs underneath the different dominant species, Similarly, decomposition of dominant litter occurs faster-at the cooler and more moist sites, but differs within sites due to litter quality of the different species. The spatial pattern of these communities provides information on the direction of future changes, The ecological processes that we documented are not statistically different in the ecotones as compared to the: adjoining communities, but are different at sites above the woodland than those below the woodland. We speculate that an increase in MAT will have a major impact on C pools and C sequestering and release processes in these semiarid landscapes. However, the impact will be primarily related to moisture availability rather than direct effects of an increase in temperature. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.

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ID Code: 37791
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Pinyon–juniper; Climate change; Ecotones
DOI: 10.1016/S0169-2046(97)00076-5
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (060000) > ECOLOGY (060200)
Divisions: Past > Institutes > Institute for Sustainable Resources
Deposited On: 07 Oct 2010 05:47
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 14:52

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