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A prolonged dry season and nitrogen deposition interactively affect CO2 fluxes in an annual Mediterranean grassland

Nogueira, Carla, Werner, Christiane, Rodrigues, Ana, Caldeira, Maria C.
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.654 pp. 978-986
aboveground biomass, annual grasslands, autumn, carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide production, climate change, drought, dry season, ecological value, ecosystems, forbs, greenhouse experimentation, growing season, moieties, net ecosystem exchange, nitrogen, rain, summer, wet season
Mediterranean annual grasslands are species-diverse ecosystems of high economic and ecological value. CO2 and water fluxes in these grasslands are triggered by the first rains in autumn, after a long hot and dry summer. Climate change scenarios project altered rainfall patterns, such as prolonged dry season into the autumn, while simultaneously nitrogen (N) deposition is increasing globally. However, how these global change drivers will interact to affect Mediterranean grassland CO2, water fluxes and productivity is still unclear.In a greenhouse experiment, we subjected the seedbank of an annual Mediterranean grassland to a factorial treatment, by prolonging the dry season by 0 days (i.e. no autumn drought), 50 days and 100 days and crossing these drought treatments with two levels of N deposition: no N and N addition.A delayed onset of the rain season, i.e., a prolonged dry season, induced lower CO2 and water fluxes throughout the growing season and a lower aboveground biomass by the end of the study period. However, N addition attenuated the effects on NEE, Reco and GPP, but did not affect aboveground biomass or functional group composition. A prolonged dry season also lowered the productivity of forbs, the dominant functional group in our grassland. Our results anticipate important effects of interacting global change drivers on Mediterranean grassland functioning.